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When you speak about a comfortable retirement, the most important thing to understand is in today’s dollars what do you mean by comfortable?
For example, comfortable might mean spending about what I spend today. For me and my family, that number is about $40-$50K per year. Of course, when I’m retired, I won’t pay for daycare, but I might pay for something like increased healthcare costs, so I assume that from a spending perspective it comes out in the wash. When you’re far from retirement, the most important thing to do is to commit to the process of guessing how much you’ll spend in retirement.
Once you know your expected expenses, you can reasonably guess how large of a nest egg you’ll need to build. Many people will cite like Gospel that you need 25X your expenses in retirement.
I personally think that Social Security will stick around, and most knowledge workers will continue some paid work even after the traditional retirement age, so I tend to view 25X expenses as a bit excessive. However, there are those who view me as a fool and would want 35X expenses saved.
In any event, 25X expected annual retirement expenses is a good Target for a young person. If you want to wonk out over the whole thing, start researching the Trinity Study, or just read a recap in this article. http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertberger/2015/05/20/how-much-do-you-really-need-to-retire/#445d8ab74939
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