Retiring rich is a dream many people share, but few are able to achieve. Close to half of baby boomers (45%) have no savings at all, according to a report from the Insured Retirement Institute, and of those who do, more than one-quarter have less than $100,000 squirreled away.
But if you've been working hard to prepare for the future, you may be one of the few who is able to retire with a healthy fund that will last. While everyone's definition of "rich" differs, these three signs indicate you're on track to enjoy retirement without worrying about running out of money.
1. You've been saving consistently for years
Because you'll likely need to save bundles of cash for retirement, it takes decades of consistent work to build a healthy nest egg. The average worker estimates retirement will cost around $1.7 million, according to a survey from Charles Schwab, and around 1 in 10 survey respondents believe they'll need at least $3 million to retire comfortably.
These numbers may be intimidating, but the earlier you begin saving, the easier it will be to achieve lofty goals. Say you want to save $1.5 million by age 67. If you started saving at 25, you'd need to save around $550 per month, assuming you're earning a modest 7% annual rate of return. But wait until 40 to begin saving, and you'll have to sock away roughly $1,700 per month to reach that goal, all other factors remaining the same.
Even if you're off to a late start and don't have 40 to 50 years to save for retirement, it's never too late to begin. By starting now, you'll give yourself the best chance to build a strong retirement fund.
2. You've set saving goals and have a plan to reach them
Without a goal, it's tough to tell whether your savings are on track or not. Even if you do have a goal in mind, you need an action plan that will help you achieve it.
To set your savings goal, figure out how much you should aim to save by retirement age. A retirement calculator is helpful here, but make your inputs as accurate as possible -- don't just guess at how much you expect to spend each year or what age you plan to retire. While you can't be 100% accurate, try to come up with as precise an estimate as possible.
Once you have a savings goal, consider how to reach it. Thinking about how many hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars you need to save by retirement can be overwhelming, so try breaking it down into smaller goals.
Most retirement calculators will tell you how much you should save each month to reach your target, so start there. You may want to break it down even further into weekly or even daily goals. Saving a few dollars per day is much more manageable than saving an enormous amount by retirement age, and these smaller goals can help keep you on track.
3. You've considered how much (or how little) to rely on Social Security
Social Security benefits are an important factor in your retirement plan, but many retirees depend too heavily on them. For the average worker, monthly checks are designed to replace only about 40% of pre-retirement income. But around half of unmarried beneficiaries and close to one-quarter of married couples rely on their benefits for around 90% of their income in retirement.
Be honest with yourself about how much of your income will come from Social Security and how much you'll need to save on your own. You can check your estimated benefit amount online by creating a my Social Security account. You can then see your future benefit amount based on your real earnings, which can give you an idea of how much you can expect to receive. This number is assuming you'll start claiming benefits at your full retirement age. If you choose to file before then, your monthly checks will be reduced.
Once you have an idea of what you'll be receiving in benefits, you can adjust your savings goals accordingly.
Saving for retirement isn't easy, and retiring rich can be even more challenging. But putting in the extra work now to ensure you won't struggle in retirement is worth it.