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3 Steps to Become a Retirement Millionaire

By Katie Brockman - Mar 7, 2020 at 11:50AM

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Even if you're not wealthy, you can retire a millionaire by following these suggestions on investing.

The number of retirement millionaires reached a record high in February, with around 233,000 investors having at least $1 million stashed in their accounts, according to research from Fidelity Investments. Fidelity analyzed retirement savings trends, including account balances, contributions and savings behaviors of roughly 30 million 401(k), IRA, and 403(b) retirement accounts to determine that total.

Retirement is getting more and more expensive, so there's a good chance you'll need at least $1 million to retire comfortably. If you're hoping to join the ranks of retirement millionaires, there are a few steps you'll need to take.

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1. Consider what age you want to retire

This is one of the most important factors to think about when you're aiming to save a lot of money because the age you retire at will have a direct impact on how much you should save each month. The earlier you want to retire, the more you'll have to save each month. But if you can delay retirement by a few years, it will be a little easier to reach your goals.

Keep in mind, however, that you can't always predict when you'll be able to retire. Around 43% of workers say they were forced to retire earlier than they'd like, according to a report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, most commonly due to health issues or unexpected job loss. So if you're banking on being able to work as long as you'd like, an unexpectedly early retirement could throw off your plans.

As you're considering the age you want to retire, be as realistic as possible. If you currently have health issues, for example, you may not be able to work into your 70s or beyond. Or if you're miserable at your job and can't imagine working several more decades, you may want to plan on retiring relatively early. When in doubt, assume you'll be retiring sooner rather than later so you won't be caught off guard.

2. Create a savings plan

Once you have a target retirement age in mind, you'll need a savings plan to reach that goal. Start by using a retirement calculator to see how much you should aim to save. Knowing you want to save $1 million by the time you retire is a good start, but it's wise to double-check that that will be enough to last the rest of your life.

The calculator will also give you an estimate of how much you should be saving each month to reach your goal. With that number in mind, you'll have a monthly target to aim for as you're saving for retirement.

Also, remember that even once you've established a savings goal, that goal isn't necessarily set in stone. If your plans change down the road -- for example, if you realize you'll be retiring sooner than you thought, or if you expect to spend more or less per year in retirement than you originally planned -- that will affect how much you should save each month. By making adjustments to your goals whenever your plan changes, that will ensure you'll be as prepared as possible when you reach retirement.

3. Be prepared to make budget cuts

If you're aiming to save at least $1 million by the time you retire, chances are you'll need to save a significant amount of money each month. For instance, if you started saving at age 30 and want to have $1 million saved by age 65, you'd need to stash away roughly $600 every month, assuming you're earning a 7% annual rate of return on your investments. And the less time you have to save, the more you'll need to save each month.

To reach your monthly savings goal, you may need to make some budget cuts. Depending on just how much you need to save each month, these could be minor adjustments or sweeping changes across all categories of your budget.

Start by tracking all your spending, if you don't do so already. This will give you a good idea of exactly where every dollar is going, making it easier to see which areas you may be spending too much. From there, you can set spending limits in each category of your budget to reallocate some cash toward your retirement account. This could require making some significant sacrifices, but if you're determined to become a retirement millionaire, it may be necessary to rein in your spending.

You don't have to be wealthy to retire a millionaire, but you do need a strategy and a lot of determination. It won't be easy to save this much money, but as long as you have a plan in place, it is possible.

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