Blog , Finance , Retirement

Determining Retirement Income Needs: The Percentage Rule

Posted on Monday, June 3, 2024
by RoseMark Advisors

Retirement planning involves navigating complex calculations and forecasts. From determining an appropriate withdrawal rate from your investments to reducing your tax burden, there are numerous decisions to consider as you prepare for your retirement years. However, figuring out your annual financial needs in retirement can be simplified with this guideline from RoseMark Advisors. We suggests that replacing 75% of your pre-retirement income is a practical baseline for most retirees to start with when estimating the necessary yearly income. Here’s the rationale behind this recommendation:

The 75% Rule: Setting Your Income Replacement Goal

Your income replacement rate is the percentage of your pre-retirement income that you will need to sustain your lifestyle after you retire from full-time work. Retirees typically draw on a mix of retirement assets, investment income, Social Security benefits, and other sources to substitute their earnings before retirement. Experts vary in their recommendations, suggesting an income replacement rate anywhere from 55% to 80%, but RoseMark Advisors advocates for 75% as an ideal target.

Why 75%?

Here are three main reasons why retirees might need 25% less income:

1. Reduced Tax Liability: The firm estimates that retirees will pay about 12% less in taxes.

2. Elimination of Savings Contributions: On average, individuals save about 8% of their income in retirement accounts like 401(k)s, which is no longer necessary once they retire.

3. Decreased Living Expenses: It is projected that retirees will spend about 5% less overall.

Understanding how much annual income you’ll require to maintain your lifestyle helps you determine the total savings needed for retirement.

For instance, an individual earning $100,000 annually before retirement might aim to replace $75,000 of that income. If they receive $30,000 annually from Social Security, they will need other income sources to provide an additional $45,000 each year. With an initial withdrawal rate of 3.8%, the retiree would need approximately $1.184 million in retirement savings (prior to inflation adjustments) to support their lifestyle.

Tailoring the 75% Rule to Fit Your Specific Needs

Naturally, each person’s financial circumstances are distinct. You might have consistently saved for retirement over the years, contributing 10% of your income to a 401(k). Alternatively, you may be planning to significantly reduce your expenses in retirement, potentially spending 10% less than what you do now. Each additional percentage point saved beyond 8%, or each extra percent you cut from your spending beyond 5%, lowers your necessary income replacement rate by roughly one percentage point.

For instance, if you save 10% of your income in a 401(k), this could reduce your required income replacement rate to 73%. Similarly, if you reduce your spending by 10% rather than 5%, your income replacement rate could decrease to 70%. Furthermore, your income level and marital status significantly influence your Social Security benefits, which in turn affects your income replacement rate. For higher earners, Social Security will cover a smaller fraction of their income compared to those with average earnings, necessitating greater reliance on personal savings to meet their income replacement needs.

Married couples also see different benefits from Social Security compared to single individuals. For example, a married couple each earning a combined income of $100,000 with a 74% income replacement rate might receive 36% of their pre-retirement income from Social Security. This couple would then need their savings and other income sources to contribute the remaining 38% of their pre-retirement income. In contrast, a single person with the same income and income replacement rate would see Social Security replace only 28% of their income, leaving them to cover the remaining 45% through savings and other means.

Understanding the portion of your income that needs to come from sources other than Social Security can guide you in setting a savings target before retirement. At higher income levels, the proportion of income replaced by Social Security benefits is much smaller, indicating a greater need for additional savings or income sources to sustain retirement.

Key Takeaway

Determining your income replacement rate is a crucial part of planning for retirement, yet it doesn’t need to be complex. RoseMark Advisors recommends beginning with the assumption that you’ll need to replace 75% of your pre-retirement income. You can adjust this figure depending on your current savings rate in retirement accounts and anticipated changes in your spending habits once you retire. A bit of straightforward calculation can provide valuable insights as you prepare for your retirement years.

Speak with one of our financial advisors today by calling 855-467-0847 or clicking the button below!

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