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3 Steps to Becoming a Retirement Millionaire

By Katie Brockman - Apr 8, 2020 at 6:45AM

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You don't necessarily need to be wealthy to retire a millionaire.

Retiring with at least $1 million in savings is a goal many workers share, but few are able to achieve. Roughly one-quarter of workers have less than $1,000 in savings, according to a 2018 survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and around 80% have less than $250,000 saved.

It is possible to become a retirement millionaire, however. It won't be easy, but it is achievable if you're willing to work for it. By taking these three steps, you can give yourself the best shot at building a nest egg worth at least $1 million.

Man holding hundred dollar bills

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Determine what age you want to retire

The age you retire has a huge impact on how much you should be saving each month to reach your goal. If you want to have $1 million saved by age 50, for example, you'll need to save significantly more each month than if you aim to retire by age 70.

However, while it may seem like a good idea to push your retirement age back to give yourself as much time as possible to save, that may not always be possible. Nearly 40% of retirees say they retired earlier than they had planned, according to a report from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, and the most common reason for early retirement was health issues.

If you're assuming you'll be able to work for as long as you want, you could run into trouble if you develop health problems or lose your job and your savings aren't prepared. So as you're considering what age you want to retire, be as realistic as possible. You may not be able to prepare for everything, but it's often better to err on the side of caution and assume you might end up retiring sooner than you think.

2. Establish a savings goal

Once you've set a retirement age, the next step is to figure out how much you should be saving every month to accumulate $1 million by that age.

To do this, plug your information into a retirement calculator. You'll need to know a few other numbers, such as how many years you expect to live in retirement and how much you think you'll spend each year once you retire. From there, you can get an estimate of how much you should save by your retirement age, and what you'll need to contribute to your retirement account each month to get there.

As you're calculating your savings goal, you may find that you need to save more or less than $1 million to retire comfortably. Although $1 million is a lot of money, it may not be enough for some retirees -- particularly if you expect to enjoy an extra-long retirement or plan to spend a lot of money each year. Running your numbers through a retirement calculator allows you to double-check that $1 million is a reasonable goal.

3. Revamp your budget to find extra cash

When you know what age you want to retire and have a clear idea of how much you should be saving each month, the next step is to figure out where that extra cash will come from. Depending on how much you already have saved and how many years you have until retirement, you might need to save a few hundred or a few thousand dollars per month to retire a millionaire.

To find that extra money, you may need to comb through your budget and start cutting back. First look for any unnecessary costs you can cut out completely, then focus on reducing your spending in other categories. If you're serious about saving a lot of cash, you might consider making drastic changes, like selling your car or downsizing to a smaller home. Saving more money is tough, but if you're not willing to make sacrifices now, keep in mind that you may need to make sacrifices in retirement.

It's not easy to retire a millionaire, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. By setting goals and creating a strategy, you can give yourself a good chance at retiring with a strong and healthy nest egg.

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