So, you want to be a millionaire.
You’d better start saving. Unless you get really, really lucky, you’re not going to wake up rich—and even if you do manage to win the lottery, you’re not going to hold onto that money without some shrewd financial habits.
Let’s say that you want to make a million dollars by retirement age; what should you be putting away each month to meet that lofty goal? The good news is that the math is pretty simple.
Assuming that you’re retiring at 67, determine how many years you’ll have to make your fortune.
Next, determine what your annual return will be. If you let the money sit in the bank, you’ll earn an average annual percentage yield of around 0.06 percent. That’s pretty dismal, and you can do better; an IRA, for example, will return about 10.7 percent, on average, but has strict annual contribution limits. A 401(k) will return about 10 percent, on average, but has fewer investment limits than a conventional IRA (and if your employer matches your contribution, you’ll make quite a bit of money before the interest even kicks in).
If the United States economy does fairly well, you might make an 11 percent return per year, but that’s assuming that everything goes perfectly. To keep your retirement account safe, you might elect for a more modest 4 percent interest rate by investing in a mix of stocks and bonds. Each year, you’ll earn on your interest, too, and inflation plays a significant role in determining the overall value of your investment—that’s where the math gets just a bit complicated.
Let’s get back to that original question: How much should you put away each day?
We’re assuming that you’re putting the money into an investment account with a decent interest of about 6 percent. If you’re 20 years old, you’ll need to save about $13.93 per day. Extrapolating from that, you’ll need about $21.70 per day in your 30s or $43.30 in your 40s, according to CNBC.
If you’re 10 years away from retirement, bad news; you’ll need to put away about $5,500 per month ($183/day). You can check out CNN’s millionaire calculator here if you’d like to run the numbers yourself.
But the real question is whether a million dollars is enough for a comfortable retirement.
That’s difficult to say. According to one survey, more than 10 percent of workers believe that they’ll need at least $1.5 million to live comfortably after retirement.
Financial advisors, however, are quick to point out that the words “comfortable retirement” mean something different in every household; if you’re planning on living in a rented Manhattan high-rise, for instance, you’ll need quite a bit more than if you already own your home in Alabama.
You’ll need to consider dozens of factors when setting up your retirement, and a financial planner can help you make an appropriate plan. Still, you should keep a single goal in mind to save effectively—and a million dollars is certainly a good place to start.