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$1 Million Isn't Enough

You'd think that retiring with a million bucks to your name would be enough to last you all through a comfortable retirement. But there's a good chance that nest egg won't last as long as you'd hope.

In a recent survey, the folks at Scottrade found that a whopping 71% of investment advisors don't think that $1 million will be a big enough nest egg for most people's retirement. I agree completely.

Hello, worst-case scenario
Retirement isn't one-size-fits-all. Some folks will need more money in their golden years than others, depending on how they plan to spend their time and money, their local cost of living, and what (if any) other income they can expect.

According to Robert Brokamp in our Rule Your Retirement newsletter, you can greatly lessen your chances of running out of money if you withdraw only 4% of your nest egg each year in retirement, adjusting that amount for inflation as you go. A million-dollar retirement fund would thus give you $40,000 in your first year. That's not too shabby -- if you're retiring right this minute.

But if your retirement remains several decades distant, you'll need to remember that inflation will eat away at your purchasing power. At 3% inflation each year, in 30 years that $40,000 you withdraw will buy as much as a mere $16,000 does now. Ouch.

So how much would you need to retire at age 65 with the equivalent of today's $1 million? Check out this handy chart:

Current Age

You'll Need This at Retirement

25

$3.26 million

30

$2.81 million

35

$2.43 million

40

$2.09 million

45

$1.81 million

50

$1.56 million

55

$1.34 million

60

$1.16 million

If the size of any of those numbers just gave you a panic attack, take heart. If you start now, a few clear and powerful steps can help you salvage your retirement. Increasing your savings starting now, and/or working a few more years at the end of your career, can add hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not a million more, to your nest egg.

Better yet, you can invest your current savings more effectively. If you don't have the time or energy for stock research, a broad-market index fund will likely serve you well, with long-term average returns of 10% a year. But if you'd like to dig deeper, the following types of investments could all make great components of a potent retirement portfolio.

Reliable payers
Dividend-paying stalwarts will grow steadily over time, paying you increasing sums no matter what the market is doing. Big-name companies offering yields of 3% or more recently included:

Company

Recent Yield

5-Year Average Annual Dividend Growth Rate

McDonald's

3.1%

29.8%

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  )

4.5%

4.1%

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  )

3.4%

10.8%

Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT  )

3.8%

8.2%

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY  )

5.4%

3.6%

 Data: Motley Fool CAPS.

These companies tend to do well in all kinds of economic environments. Even in a recession, people will want their large fries, their Oreos, their Band-Aids, and their blood-pressure medications. These big blue chips also generally offer global exposure. McDonald's, for example, generated 72% of its sales outside the U.S. in fiscal 2009, while Johnson & Johnson derived 50% of sales abroad. These companies all command considerable confidence from our CAPS investing community; four of them earn four-star ratings, while Johnson & Johnson merits the maximum five.

Fast growers
The right growth companies can give your portfolio a powerful boost, especially for younger investors with enough time to accept their increased risks. Few people should invest exclusively in such companies, but taking more of a chance with a modest portion of your nest egg can pay off.

These companies with rapid recent growth rates might deserve a closer look:

Company

3-Year Average Revenue Growth Rate

3-Year Average EPS Growth Rate

Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG  )

34%

36%

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  )

27%

43%

Teva Pharmaceutical

18%

27%

GameStop (NYSE: GME  )

20%

32%

 Data: Motley Fool CAPS.

You'll want to keep a close eye on growth companies; their prospects can change quickly, and they're often trading far from bargain levels. Intuitive Surgical has grown by an annual average of 50% over the past five years, but critics have begun to question whether surgeries aided by the company's robots are better or more effective than conventional ones. Amazon.com has gobs of fans, but some investors worry that the stock has gotten ahead of itself, with a P/E ratio topping 50. GameStop faces challenges from digital game distribution, but it could still enjoy years of profitable operations ahead. Teva occupies a compelling industry niche, making generic drugs as more and more blockbuster medicines' patents expire.

Position yourself well
If you feel like even $1 million won't be enough to keep you comfortable for the rest of your life, don't freak out. You might need a bigger nest egg than you first assumed, but odds are you can get there.

We'd love to help you get your financial house in order. Try our Rule Your Retirement newsletter service free for 30 days. You'll be able to access a variety of tools, tips, and experts, along with several model portfolios and recommended stocks and mutual funds. You have little to lose -- and a much bigger nest egg to gain.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, Intuitive Surgical, and McDonald's. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Intuitive Surgical is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Amazon.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor choice. Motley Fool Options has recommended a write covered calls position on GameStop. Motley Fool Options has recommended a buy calls position on Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.


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Selena Maranjian
TMFSelena

Selena Maranjian has been writing for the Fool since 1996 and covers basic investing and personal finance topics. She also prepares the Fool's syndicated newspaper column and has written or co-written a number of Fool books. For more financial and non-financial fare (as well as silly things), follow her on Twitter...

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