Why $1 Million May Not be Enough for Retirement

Why 1 Million Dollars is no longer enough to retireOne million dollars may sound like a nice chunk of change, but a recent article in the New York Times suggests it may not be enough when it comes to your retirement nest egg.

How can $1 million be insufficient, you ask? The paper notes that if a 65-year-old couple with $1 million in tax-free municipal bonds takes the standard 4 percent (or $40,000) withdrawal each year, there would still be a 72 percent chance that they’d drain their portfolio before death. The Times goes on to note that even a couple drawing only 3 percent (or $30,000) annually from their $1 million in savings would have a one-in-three chance of running out of money during retirement.

Alicia Munnell, the director of the Center for Retirement Research, agrees, telling the Times that most people don’t have anywhere near enough saved for retirement. This falls in line with the findings of Edward N. Wolff, a New York University economics professor, who tells the paper that he estimates the median financial net worth for American households is currently at $10,890.

So what can people do to make sure they have enough to get through retirement?

One option that is becoming a reality for many Americans is putting off retirement by working longer. The Times points to a survey for the Employee Benefit Research Institute which notes that in 1991, 11 percent of workers thought they’d retire after 65 – the age traditionally considered retirement age. But this year, 36 percent said they’d be retiring after 65, and 7 percent said they would probably never retire. Munnell – who Straight Talk spoke with a while back about the changing face of retirement – notes that finding a career you like and doing it for as long as possible is the key to making working longer a more attractive option.

Both Munnell and Wolf claim that Social Security will be an important player for many retirees, even those with $1 million saved. Munnell also suggests going back to the basic habit of spending less and saving more, as well tapping into home equity for living expenses.

How much money do you think you’ll need to live comfortably during retirement? Have you considered working past 65 to boost your retirement savings?

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  1. 3

    As long as I have a place to live, something to eat, do what I like and take care of the people I care, I think we’ll be fine, not need to be superfluous or buy things I don’t need.

  2. 5
    heidi clayton

    I put in a million dollars with Bank of Hawaii six months ago,
    I was promised high returns and low risk for my money with a 1.4% charge.
    I was leery but thought my principle would be safe so I gave it a few months.
    I wasn’t happy with the performance so I tried to get my $ out.
    They talked me into staying a few months longer.
    Now I’ve lost $20,000 mostly on Pacific Capital Securities.
    Bonds have dropped as interest rates have risen.
    I’m told I will get my million back but I think I should pull it now before interest rates rise more.
    What do you think?

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