AARP Retirement Calculator: Are You Saving Enough?
Find out when — and how — to retire the way you want
This information is for educational purposes only — it’s not intended to provide specific advice. We don't guarantee the accuracy of the tool and recommend consulting a financial adviser regarding your particular situation.
What does AARP’s Retirement Calculator do?
The AARP Retirement Calculator can provide you with a personalized snapshot of what your financial future might look like. Simply answer a few questions about your household status, salary and retirement savings, such as an IRA or 401(k). You can include information about supplemental retirement income (such as a pension or Social Security), consider how long you intend to work and think about your expected lifestyle as a retiree. The tool will help you determine the amount of money you’ll need to retire when — and how — you want.
How much should I save for retirement?
A rule of thumb is that you’ll need 10 times your income at retirement. If you make $100,000 at retirement, then you’ll need $1 million in savings. But this is a very rough estimate. The AARP Retirement Calculator helps you refine that estimate. The tool bases its answer on three big questions: How long you need to save, how long you’ll need to spend your money and how much you’ll earn on your money.
- The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better off you’ll be. If you start putting $5,000 a year into an IRA at age 30, you’ll have about $669,400 at age 70, assuming you earn 5 percent a year. If you start at age 50, you’ll have $186,860. Although it’s never too late to start saving, it’s a lot easier if you start early. The AARP Retirement Calculator lets you adjust the age when you retire to see how you’ll fare at various ages.
- You may live longer than you think. Obviously, your life span in retirement is something you can’t know. But you have a few ways to estimate it. One way to estimate is the IRS mortality tables. At 65, for example, the average person can expect to live another 22.9 years. This means that half live longer and half do not. To be safe, it’s probably best to assume you’ll live to 90 or beyond. If you come from a long-living family, 100 may be a better guess. The AARP Retirement Calculator lets you estimate your time in retirement.
- Make reasonable investment assumptions. Your investments, and their rates of return, play a big part in your retirement portfolio. Most people invest in a mix of stocks, bonds and ultra-safe short-term investments, such as Treasury bills and bank certificates of deposit (CDs). According to Morningstar, the Chicago investment trackers, large-company stocks have gained an average of 9.62 percent a year since 1929, while long-term government bonds have gained 5.16 percent, and Treasury bills, 3.24 percent. (This does not mean they will produce the same returns in the next 93 years.)
- What’s a decent assumption for your rate of return? One approach would be to assume you’ll get a mix of the typical returns from an equal blend of stocks, bonds and CDs — a bit over 6 percent. Just bear in mind that very few people are skilled investors and that some very wealthy investors could be just a bit lucky, too. The AARP Retirement Calculator will let you adjust your rate of return. Just don’t overestimate your skill or your luck.
Save as much as you can. You can’t control how long you’ll live in retirement, or what your returns will be. But you can control how much you save. In the long run, that’s the biggest determinant of how much you will have when you retire. The more you can save, the more you’ll have when you retire. The AARP Retirement Calculator will help you find the best amount to save to reach your goal.
Let’s say Emily, age 30, earns $40,000 a year and her boss, Ebenezer, gives 1 percent annual raises. Emily saves 1 percent of her salary because that’s all she can afford. Emily earns 5 percent on her money, and, of course, she gets no match on her 401(k) plan. By age 70, Emily will have $57,004 saved for retirement.
But let’s say Tim, also age 30, works for Ebenezer’s kindly nephew, Fred, who starts him at $40,000 a year but gives a 3 percent annual raise each year. Also, Fred’s 401(k) plan matches 50 percent of Tim’s contribution, to a maximum of 6 percent. Inspired by this, Tim contributes 6 percent of his salary. By the time Tim retires, he’ll have $698,314 in his retirement account.
When should I retire?
It depends. The AARP Retirement Calculator will help you decide. If you plan on retiring early, however, you'll need a lot of money. In most cases, you can’t tap tax-deferred retirement plans without a 10 percent penalty until the year you turn 59½. (And you’ll owe taxes on your withdrawals at any age, unless you’re in a Roth IRA.) You can’t get Medicare until you’re 65, and your money will have to last much longer than someone who retires at that age. Here are other factors to consider:
Although you can start collecting this benefit at 62, it will be reduced unless you retire at full retirement age, which is 67 for those born in 1960 or later. (Full retirement age is the age at which you qualify for 100 percent of the benefit calculated from your earnings history.) Your benefit increases by 8 percent each year you delay taking the benefit after full retirement age, until you turn age 70.
Social Security benefits are adjusted annually for inflation. That’s a big plus — and one that makes waiting to collect worthwhile. Nevertheless, if you’re in poor health or have large savings, the time off from work may be worth missing the extra money from the Social Security Administration (SSA). You can use the AARP Retirement Calculator and the AARP Social Security Calculator to see how much you would get from Social Security by retiring at different ages.
You may be planning to retire at 70, but your body may have other ideas. And if you decide to retire before 65, be sure to include the cost of private health insurance in your calculations.
If most of your savings are in tax-deferred savings accounts, such as a 401(k) or IRA, you’ll owe state and federal income taxes on the amount you withdraw. If your federal, state and local taxes are 30 percent, a $100 withdrawal will leave you with $70 after taxes.
If you are getting Social Security benefits before full retirement age, the SSA could reduce your benefits. If you are receiving benefits and working in 2023 but not due to hit full retirement age until a later year, the earnings limit is $21,240. You lose $1 in benefits for every $2 earned over the cap. So if you have a part-time job that pays $25,000 a year ($3,760 over the limit), Social Security will deduct $1,880 in benefits.
Suppose you will reach full retirement age in 2023. In that case, the earnings limit is $56,520, with $1 in benefits withheld for every $3 earned over the limit. That applies until the date you hit full retirement age; past that, there is no benefit reduction, no matter how much you earn. In fact, the SSA increases your monthly benefit at that point, so that over time you recoup benefits you lost to the prior withholding.
If you receive wages, earnings-limit calculations are based on your gross pay. If you’re self-employed, Social Security counts your net income only.
All the information presented is for educational and resource purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific or investment advice. We don't guarantee the accuracy of the tool and suggest that you consult with your advisor regarding your individual situation.
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