Retirement Planning: A Customized Approach for Everyone

The recent survey by Northwest Mutual, revealing that U.S. adults believe they need $1.46 million to retire comfortably, has indeed ignited discussions on the appropriate amount necessary for a secure retirement. This figure aligns with the common notion that a nest egg around $1 million is often cited as a benchmark.

Others disagree and point to a survey where 86% of retirees with savings between $50,000 and $99,000 report they are living a comfortable retirement or doing OK. The differing opinions highlight the difference in how people want to spend their retirement years and how they define a secure retirement.  

Comparing your retirement savings to others can be misleading due to these differences. Instead, focusing on your personal circumstances, values and goals provides a clearer path to a secure retirement.  

Variation in retirement goals and circumstances

  • Spending Habits: Spending levels before and during retirement can differ significantly based on lifestyle choices. 

  • Investment Strategies: Different approaches to investing can impact how much is needed for retirement. 

  • Family Responsibilities: Some may need to support children or aging parents, affecting their retirement savings. 

Key Components of a Robust Retirement Plan 

Savings Vehicles and Sources of Income 

  • Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s: Offer tax-deferred growth, but withdrawals are taxed. 

  • Roth IRAs and 401(k)s: Contributions are made with after-tax dollars, but withdrawals are tax-free in retirement. 

  • Pensions: Not as common as they were decades ago, but many employers are beginning to offer pensions again. Some retirees may be “grandfathered in” on older pension plans. 

  • Personal Savings: Non-retirement savings accounts, brokerage accounts, CDs, Annuities. 

  • Social Security Income: When to take SSI can depend on many factors. 

Managing Risk  

  • Inflation Risk: Protect against the eroding purchasing power of your savings. 

  • Market Risk: Diversify investments to mitigate the impact of market volatility. 

  • Interest Rate Risk: Manage exposure to interest rate changes, particularly for fixed-income investments. 

  • Tax Risk: It’s essential to consider both current tax benefits and future tax liabilities. 

  • Health Care Risk: Anticipate potential medical expenses and consider insurance options. 

  • Withdrawal Rate and Sequence Risk: Adopt a sustainable withdrawal strategy to avoid depleting your savings prematurely. 

  • Family and Dependent Risk: Plan for potential financial support to family members. 

Dynamic and Personalized Planning 

A comprehensive retirement plan should be: 

  • Well-Thought-Out: Consider all aspects of retirement, including income sources, expenses, and potential risks. 

  • Thorough: Ensure all bases are covered, from healthcare to housing. 

  • Dynamic: Be prepared to adjust the plan as life circumstances and market conditions change. 

  • Personalized: Designed for you to live your best next decade. 

Professional Guidance 

While online tools and articles can provide valuable insights, working with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who is a fiduciary can be particularly beneficial. A fiduciary is legally obligated to act in your best interest, ensuring personalized and objective advice. At Client First Capital, we are fiduciaries who put your best interests first.


Rather than getting caught up in useless comparisons and unrelated averages, focus on your unique retirement goals and circumstances. By understanding your own needs and working with a professional, you can create a retirement plan that not only meets your financial requirements but also allows you to look forward to a fulfilling and enjoyable retirement. 

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