Retirement planning: Ten numbers you need to know

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Brad Weber, Regional Director, Retirement Plan Services

When investors or financial planners talk about a retirement number, often it is the amount that you should try to save.

As this year’s National Retirement Planning Week comes to a close, it is an appropriate time to take a closer look at ten important numbers to consider when contemplating your retirement.

  1. Your current retirement account balance. This is the amount you’ve saved-to-date that is just for retirement and excludes illiquid assets.
  2. The number of years you expect to work before retiring. Do you think you will be working another six months or six years?
  3. The amount of money you plan to set aside each year you remain employed.
  4. The number of years you can expect to live. While no one can accurately predict this number, your average life expectancy is a critical variable in retirement planning. According to the Social Security Administration, a man reaching age 65 today can expect to live until age 84, while a woman of the same age can expect to live until 86. Tools such as the Living to 100, or the more simplified LifeSpan Calculator from Northwestern Mutual, will generate a prediction based on your responses to lifestyle type questions. The point of this exercise is less about trying to predict when you will die than it is to help you prepare for the reality of a retirement of unprecedented length.
  5. A projected rate of inflation throughout your retirement. As Roddy Marino explained in his recent blog post, even mild inflation over a 40-year span can erode your purchasing power and negatively impact your standard of living. Retirees must continue to invest in risk assets that they can reasonably expect will outpace inflation to retire comfortably.
  6. The amount of retirement income you expect to receive, from all sources, including social security, income on rental property, pension payments, and annuity income.
  7. Your anticipated monthly expenses in retirement. A good rule of thumb in thinking about future expenses is to take a hard look at your existing expense structure. While some may disappear or decrease significantly, you may find them being replaced by other expenses. For example, instead of daily commuter costs you may take longer trips so overall transportation expenses may not fluctuate that much.
  8. The percentage of stocks vs. bonds in your portfolio. You should know your portfolio allocation, and its associated level of investment risk. Throughout your retirement, your portfolio will have to provide both income and growth to maintain your purchasing power and support your lifestyle. It’s helpful, however, to know where you stand so you can assess whether your portfolio mix will help you achieve your retirement goals.
  9. The amount of financial support you will likely supply to your loved ones. Care for loved ones can play a significant role in shaping your retirement experience. As John Solomon, EVP of our Wealth Advisory group, points out in a recent blog, the number of adult children who provide personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled in the last 15 years. Currently, 25% of adults, mostly Baby Boomers, provide some care to a parent.
  10. Your anticipated medical expenses. Like predicting longevity, it is hard to know how much you will spend on medical expenses in retirement. According to recent estimates by Fidelity Investments, the average American couple spends nearly $260,000 in retirement on health-related expenses, excluding monthly insurance premium costs.

While all of these numbers play a critical role in shaping your retirement experience, probably the most important one you should know is the telephone number of a financial advisor.

An experienced financial advisor can help you manage your retirement portfolio to meet your preservation and growth objectives, establish an income strategy matched to your spending needs, and track your spending versus assumptions. Regardless of the situation, you know that your trusted financial advisor understands your financial history and can help make decisions that are in your best interests.

For over 10 years, Brinker Capital Retirement Plan Services has worked with advisors to offer plan sponsors the solutions to help participants reach their retirement goals. When plan sponsors appoint Brinker Capital as the ERISA 3(38) investment manager, this allows them to transfer fiduciary responsibility for the selection and management of their investments so they can focus on the best interests of their employees.  This fiduciary responsibility is something that Brinker Capital has acknowledged, in writing, since our founding in 1987.

For additional information on National Retirement Planning week from Brinker Capital, please review Frank Randall’s blog debunking common retirement myths.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.