Retiring at 40 really can mean enjoying retirement in your (relative) youth. The question is, what does it take to make that possible? If you are lucky enough to have set aside $10 million, can that get the job done? While it certainly depends on your needs and lifestyle, the answer for almost everyone is yes, as long as you invest and manage your money wisely. With $10 million on hand, you can comfortably retire at age 40. Here are a few things to consider as you make your own plans but you may want to work with a financial advisor to make sure you have the plan you need to live the lifestyle you want.
Social Security and Medicare
Retirement ultimately boils down to two numbers: Money in and money out. In other words, how much will your retirement savings generate each month compared with how much your needs and comforts cost? For most retirees, Social Security and Medicare make up much of that balance.
Social Security provides a significant portion of most retirees’ income. There’s a lot of range there since, at the time of writing, you can collect anywhere from $4,555 per month to $49.40. But the average Social Security recipient collects about $1,825 per month in additional income.
However, as a 40-year-old retiree, you should not plan for this income. You won’t receive it for decades, long enough that your retirement plans should allow you to live comfortably without a penny of Social Security income. Treat this as a nice bonus to come in later years, not benefits you will rely on when your retirement fund is coasting on fumes.
Medicare works the same way from the opposite angle. While not a comprehensive insurance plan, Medicare does cover a huge portion of most retirees’ medical costs. This is typically an important part of retirement planning because it takes a lot of spending off the table. Again, though, it will not apply to you. You won’t become eligible for Medicare for another 25 years, long enough that you’ll need a solid, indefinite plan for your own insurance needs. As above, treat this like a nice bonus once you hit 65, not a benefit you’ll rely on after you’ve spent most of your money.
Income, Inflation and Volatility
The first, perhaps most essential, question is how much income you can plan on during your retirement. With $10 million, the answer to that question can be “quite a lot.” Exactly how much, though, depends entirely on how you structure your retirement account.
There are countless ways to structure your retirement plans and every one of them will earn you a different income. The essential question is how you want to balance your risk vs. reward while in retirement. However, you choose to structure your retirement account, though, a $10 million nest egg is almost certainly enough to generate a comfortable income. Consider just a few examples:
Cash: You could choose to keep your money entirely in cash, parking it in a savings account or a certificate of deposit. You could probably get a significant interest rate based on that amount of money, but even an account bearing 2% would generate $200,000 per year.
Bonds: You could also park your money in bonds. Historically, you can expect to collect an interest rate of around 5% to 6% on investment-grade corporate bonds, steady payments backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing corporation. That’s an annual payment of $500,000 or more in just interest payments without drawing down on the principal.
Annuities: You could put your money into an annuity, which will issue you a guaranteed income for the rest of your life based on your initial investment. This is the fire-and-forget approach, giving you a product that will just make direct deposits forever.
All of this is to say nothing of stock market investment (S&P 500 average return 11% or $1.1 million per year), real estate investments or other higher-risk approaches. Regardless, the outcome is the same. No matter how you choose to manage your money, as long as you do so wisely, this is more than enough to live a happy and indefinite retirement.
Inflation and Volatility
One thing that all early retirees need to watch out for is inflation. Over the short term, inflation rarely impacts a household’s financial plan. Generally speaking your investments and (in ordinary years) even most bank interest will keep your money at around par with prices.
Over the course of years and decades, though, that’s less true. With no new inflation-indexed earnings coming in, you need to make sure that your retirement account keeps its value against prices at large. That’s a good argument for a slightly more aggressive or at least more flexible, approach to retirement planning. Instead of locking yourself into 30-year bonds, consider 10-year assets. Flexibility will help you respond to a changing market over time.
The same is true of market volatility. The good news here is that, at 40, you can afford to take more risks. You have more time to recover from a down market and you can even go back to work at need. Unless you have extremely bad luck, though, that won’t be necessary. Just manage your investments so that, if you choose to pursue larger gains, you have the time and flexibility to let your account recover its value before you need to cash out specific assets in a down year.
Spending, Dependents and Lifestyle
For young retirees, this is a big one. In retirement, most people can plan around the 80% rule. Essentially, they can expect to live on about 80% of what they earned during their working lives. Now, to a certain degree, this will apply to you because you no longer need to make contributions to any retirement accounts. Beyond that, though, a lot of the 80% rule is based on age. Someone in their 70s tends to have fewer responsibilities than a young adult. This will not apply to you.
At age 40, your lifestyle is likely significantly more active than an older retiree. You are likely to want more, have more and be more and that will cost more. Indeed, at this age, your lifestyle may still be expanding rather than contracting. You may even need more money than before retiring. Depending on where you live this is a near-certainty since your retirement will have plenty of time for the major costs of life to increase. In particular, younger retirees who live in the city should plan for year-after-decade increases in the cost of rent. Even if you stay in your current apartment, it will cost much more in 30 years than it does today.
All of this means that you need to think about your costs and needs carefully. You need to prepare for your major costs ahead, such as college, as well as unpredictable events and needs. You have a lot of money, so absent an extravagant lifestyle you should be fine, but this is again location-dependent. Even a $500,000 per year income can run out surprisingly quickly in places like San Francisco or Manhattan if you let cost creep set in.
Longevity, Life Changes and Estate Planning
Typically, retirement planning goes hand-in-hand with end-of-life and medical planning. When people prepare to retire they undertake the dismal task of preparing for what comes after and they prepare to manage their health in old age.
At 40, neither is likely to be high on your list of priorities. And that’s okay. For someone with $10 million in assets, you should already have a will in some fashion. If you have children, you absolutely must have the will to determine their needs and guardianship. Beyond that, though, complex estate planning can certainly wait. The same is true of health care planning. You probably don’t need to worry about this beyond securing a really good insurance plan. Issues like long-term care insurance and supplemental Medicare insurance can all wait for a few decades until they’re more relevant.
However, estate planning and life changes will become relevant. Before you pull the trigger on retirement, make sure you have a plan to make that plan. Talk to your financial advisor to make sure that your current financial plan can accommodate the future plans you’ll need to make around your estate and your health care needs later in life. For example, don’t just dump all of your money in an irrevocable trust on the day you retire. Leave yourself the room to make the choices you want when you want them.
The Bottom Line
At age 40 you can very comfortably retire with $10 million in the bank, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will always work out for everyone. The exact nature of your retirement will depend entirely on your approach to investing and asset management, as well as your expenses and lifestyle. You may want to work with a financial advisor to help you find the right investment balance for your needs.
Retirement Planning Tips
We can’t overstate how important planning is to your retirement. The best way to retire early or any time at all, is with a solid financial plan that considers both your current needs and the years ahead. You may need to enlist the help of an experienced financial advisor. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Do these numbers look a little tight for your lifestyle? Don’t worry about it! Like we said up top, even a $500,000 income can actually get tight if you’re trying to raise a family in some of the hyper-expensive cities. If this isn’t the right move, maybe try waiting a few more years to see what retirement would look like at 45.
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