Many retirement planners, and some recent commercials, suggest that there is a magic number for retirement. They say if you have that EXACT amount of money, then you are ready to retire. But, no one can tell you exactly how much you will need to retire, much less how much you have to save to get there.
Does this mean that thinking about saving for retirement is worthless? Let me answer that by using one of my favorite websites: MapQuest.
When I am planning a trip, I can get an estimated drive time from my house to the destination. This really helps me with my 15 year old son’s hockey trips. I know that Toronto is about 10 hours, Detroit is about 5 hours, and Columbus is 6 hours. MapQuest provides an important starting point for the trip, but it cannot guarantee the weather, construction, rush hour traffic, or how often I like to stop when I drive.
In my car, I have a navigation system I don’t know how we got along without one! It’s not as smart as MapQuest, but it has an important added feature. While I am driving, it will recalculate my route and time after a false turn or a forced detour. It also updates the estimated time along the way based on the progress I have made already.
Now, think about planning for your future when you retire. No matter how good of a job you do, you still need to update the estimate over time. When you are just starting to plan for your future, a reasonable estimate about how much to save will help. But as you near retirement, you may want to know more detail before you decide to retire.
Delaying retirement can be a very powerful lever that you have in retirement preparation. The longer you work, the more you save and the less you take out for income.
The key is to start planning for your future NOW and don’t stop! Being able to adapt to unforeseen changes in the world and in your life can make a tremendous positive impact on your future.