Probably a third of the threads here on ER, have to do with numbers reflecting income, needs, assets, and spending... all eventually leading to comparisons, that combine to determine the safety of leaving the workforce.
So many standards... and so many fuzzy numbers that depend on location, household or individual basis, age, basis for projections and hundreds of other variables that confuse, and allow everyone to pick his/her own set of statistics.
Throw in inheritance or self-made, and coming up with some kind of path to retirement is a daunting task.
The Motley Fool came up with an "average" based article, trying to set some kind of basis from which to discuss money... After the first few paragraphs, they failed, and went off-track, losing some meaning.
The opening article continues (after the ads) to:
Do You Need $1 Million to Retire? Maybe.
... and some comparisons.
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All of this you've seen before, in one form or another. Point being:
Average- is just a number. Serious planning doesn't come from what someone else thinks or does. Experience from others feeds into that part of your own thinking only as it applies to you. Houses, cars, hobbies, travel, entertainment and spending in general, varies from person to person.
The second part of this, is timing. Seeing beyond today. Ten, twenty, thirty or even more years from today, will your interests and needs be the same as today? How much help does "Average" give when you are 60, 70, 80 or 90?
So... look at "averages"... then take a big step to refining your own needs and expectations. Not just numbers in a calculator, but a thoughtful look ahead to what you hope to get out of life. Some way of putting numbers down on the basis of hopes and probabilities.
I'm sharing my own plan... not because I'd recommend it to you, but because it worked for me... and made "numbers" more real.
A big...no, many
big spread sheets. Horizontal columns... Like a budget... Income by source on the first six or seven lines...Expenses on the next 25 or 30 lines.
Vertical columns... one year at a time from age 53, to 65, then every five years from 65 to 95.
All guesses, but educated guesses. Obviously, big factors when incomes kicked in... Social Security, Medicare and payouts from IRA's... Calculated guesses on taxes... (none, based on planning). Estimates rates of return... on CD's Bonds, small investments... and estimated incomes from the sale of non-liquid assets...)
Many different if small income sources... (small annuity, small payments for carryover part time work, some old cash values life insurance policies etc.
On the Expense side.... our best guesses as to what we might be doing with regard to second homes, boats, travel, entertainment and standard of living in general.
Yeah, so we planned on moving from our 2400sf home in the Chicago suburbs, to spend 6 months in a campground, and 6 months in a gated community in Florida. The same type of calculation, with regard to things like cost of living (much less), insurance, house and auto taxes and general maintenance and upkeep. Guesses , to be sure, but remarkably close to reality. the decision to move to a CCRC in 2004, worked into the plan too.
Too much detail? Maybe... but all the way through the past 28 years of retirement, the detailed planning from 1989 has proved to be very close to today's reality. Above all, trying to cover as many bases as we could, has contributed to peace of mind and confidence.
I guess the OP title of "Averages" isn't totally descriptive of my reason for posting, but it made me realize that none of us is "Average".
For newer members who may still be a little nervous about early retirement
some thoughts from how and why we retired with somewhat less than most of the successful retirees who share experiences here on WE...