Having $1 million put away for the future sounds like a great goal. Many financial experts recommend hitting that landmark in order to retire comfortably, and nearly 60% of Americans think it's the amount they need to live out their golden years stress-free.
But although saving that much money can provide a good amount of financial security, it may no longer be enough to sustain you for that long after you stop working — especially if you live in an expensive state like California.
To determine the number of years, months, and days $1 million would last, researchers at personal finance website GOBankingRates multiplied each state's overall cost-of-living index with its estimated annual expenses. The site used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yearly expenditures were then multiplied by other costs including housing and health care.
The states were ranked from the shortest to longest time $1 million would stretch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, your money would run out quickest in costly, popular places to live like California and New York.
Here's how long $1 million would last in the three most populous U.S. states.
Amount of time $1 million would last: 14 years, 3 months, 7 days
Annual groceries cost: $4,782
Annual housing cost: $18,227
Annual utilities cost: $4,380
Annual transportation cost: $6,181
Annual health-care cost: $7,679.46
Total annual expenditures: $70,034
Amount of time $1 million would last: 21 years, 4 months, 18 days
Annual groceries cost: $3,568
Annual housing cost: $7,981
Annual utilities cost: $3,901
Annual transportation cost: $4,220
Annual health-care cost: $6,482
Total annual expenditures: $46,740
Amount of time $1 million would last: 20 years and 3 days
Annual groceries cost: $4,145
Annual housing cost: $8,973
Annual utilities cost: $3,870
Annual transportation cost: $4,428
Annual health-care cost: $6,597
Total annual expenditures: $49,944
In New York and Pennsylvania, the fourth and fifth most populous states according to the U.S. Census Bureau, $1 million would last about 14 years and 19 years, respectively.
While each of these states tout above-average costs, they all lose out to Hawaii in terms of how fast $1 million would go. The Aloha State's population is a lot lower (though its residents are the happiest in the country), but its daunting cost of living means the money would only last about 10 years, 2 months, and 29 days.
In Mississippi, on the other hand, which is among the least expensive (and least happy) U.S. states, $1 million would last more than twice as long as in Hawaii, covering the average retiree for 23 years, 2 months, and 2 days.
On average, nationwide, $1 million would last about 19 years, finds GOBankingRates.
Pinpointing exactly how much you'll need to retire can be a challenge and reaching that goal can be even harder. A 2019 Northwestern Mutual study found more than 22% of Americans have less than $5,000 saved for a secure future and 50% plan on working past retirement age.
The coronavirus pandemic has made circumstances worse: Nearly 60% of Americans say the economic impact of the crisis hurt their retirement plans, according to data from Allianz Life. Almost half said they've reduced the amount they put away or stopped saving altogether.
Meanwhile, 14% of Americans have taken money from retirement accounts amid the outbreak.
It's still possible to retire comfortably, whether it's with $1 million or much less. Try to set aside at least 10% to 20% of your monthly income in a 401(k), Roth IRA, or a traditional IRA if you can. These vehicles can offer compound interest to help your money grow.
If you're like the many Americans cash-strapped because of the pandemic, focus on the essentials: Pay your key expenses such as housing and food, and save what you can.
How much you're able to put away will ultimately depend on your individual circumstances, but saving may not be as hard as you think: Experts generally suggest you aim to have an annual income in retirement equivalent to about 75% of your pre-retirement income.
To get a personal sense of what your goal should be, check out Grow's retirement savings calculator.
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