The $1 million figure that is frequently cited as the silver bullet needed to enjoy a comfortable retirement is actually attainable, Consumer Reports found in a recent survey of 24,270 online subscribers age 55 and up.
Retirees who started saving and planning for their retirement in their 30s had an average net worth of $1.1 million, the magazine found. Those who started in their 40s had an average net worth of $868,000, and those who started in their 50s or later had an average net worth of $651,000.
The importance of saving early was underscored by the 39% who said they regretted waiting to save.
Surprisingly, the magazine found that lifestyle trumps savings as the main focus in retirement, with 75% of those with $1 million or more in retirement saying they were highly satisfied in retirement, yet 50% of those with a net worth of less than $250,000 said they, too, were highly satisfied in their golden years.
Those who were not so satisfied in retirement attributed it regrets about past actions. Fifty-seven percent of the retirees in the survey said they had regrets about financial decisions they had made, 21% wished they had taken better care of their health, and 19% wished they had developed lasting interests and friendships.
Consumer Reports is presenting the findings of this survey in its February issue, which also contains an article on retirement best practices, the most notable of which is living frugally or at least within one’s means. “Retirees who were most satisfied with their situation credited living modestly as among the best steps they’d made earlier in life,” the magazine says.
Consumer Reports also advocates saving early, and working longer. Twenty percent of the survey respondents worked part-time in retirement, and of this group, 37% said they did so because they needed the money.