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How to Save a Million Dollars for Retirement

nesteggWhen playing the Game of Life as a kid, you could choose to retire at Countryside Acres or Millionaire Estates. If only it were so simple. In fact, according to a recent ACCC poll 75% of Americans do not feel adequately prepared for retirement. (Check out the breakdown of the results here.)

Saving a million dollars for retirement takes years of hard work and determination. Follow this advice to save a million dollars by age 65:

Start by using ACCC’s Save a Million financial calculator. This calculator can help you determine how long you will need to save to be a millionaire and how much you will need to deposit regularly. Once you have an idea of how much you are currently saving and how much you will need to save over a specific period of time, you can create a realistic savings plan.

Assuming you have nothing saved thus far an 8% annual return (invested in stocks), here is how much you will need to save per month to reach a million dollars by age 65.

Age

Monthly Savings

25

$286

35

$671

45

$1,698

55

$5,466

The first piece of advice for saving a million dollars is to start saving now—most experts recommend to start saving by age 25. Start saving as soon as you start collecting a steady paycheck – even if you are only in your 20s and retirement seems eons away.

Once you have a regular paycheck, it is likely that your employer will offer some type of retirement savings plan. Max out your retirement accounts (401(k), 403(b), traditional IRA, and Roth IRA accounts are recommended) by making the maximum contribution you can and taking full advantage of employer matching programs.  Matching programs will help you become a millionaire at a much faster rate. Making maximum contributions wills teach you live on less, which leads to the next point…

Live frugally. If you want to someday be a millionaire, you have to pay yourself first. This means setting up automatic payments from your paycheck to your savings account, before paying your monthly living expenses. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to things like vacations, but for example remember to search for the best deals on airfare and hotels. Use this Save by Cutting Back guide for ideas on how to save on everything from entertainment to transportation.

Do not make any early withdrawals from your retirement accounts. Anytime you make an early withdrawal, you will not only deplete your savings but also have to pay income tax on the amount withdrawn and even pay an early withdrawal penalty fee. You can avoid early withdrawals by creating an emergency fund of six to nine months’ worth of living expenses.

Boost savings whenever you can. Many people boost their savings once their kids become independent or once they have finished paying a significant debt like a mortgage or student loan.

Factor in fees, taxes, and inflation. $1 million today sounds great, but what will that be worth 25 years from now? Following a standard inflation rate of 3%, it will only be worth $475,000. If you want to save a balance of $1 million factoring in inflation, you may have to start saving earlier or retire earlier.

When did you start saving for retirement? Do you feel prepared?

ABOUT AUTHOR / Madison

Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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