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Sunday, April 21, 2024

How you should be thinking about retirement income

How you should be thinking about retirement income


When people imagine what they’ll need for retirement, they often think about a specific dollar amount. For example, you might wonder if you can retire with a million dollars. In reality, there’s no magic number to guarantee a happy, secure retirement. In fact, it’s likely that if you ask a room full of people what they expect from retirement, everyone will give a different answer.

Complicating matters even more, many people aren’t sure how to create a monthly income in retirement, and many are also concerned their savings won’t last.1

  • Only 22% of people with retirement plans are confident they can develop a strategy to turn their savings into income.2
  • 70% of people fear running out of money in retirement.3

The need for retirement income solutions isn’t new. The key however, is making sure you’re getting a customized solution that takes into account your individual circumstances and goals. From there, you can start building a retirement income strategy that is right for you. Read on to learn more.

Personalize your plan

Retirement income should be tailored to meet your unique needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. To get started on personalizing your retirement income plan, consider these questions:

When will you retire? Some people prioritize retiring early, while others want to continue to work for many years. The timeline you set will help determine the income you’ll need in retirement.

Read more: Guide for deciding when to retire

What lifestyle do you see yourself living? Assess your current lifestyle, and how you can maintain it in retirement. For example, whether your goals are to enjoy a meal out, or to travel the world, you’ll want to map your expectations regarding the kind of things and types of experiences you’ll want in retirement—and how much they’ll cost.

Where will you live? Decisions about whether to relocate or stay put in retirement can have a major impact on your retirement income plan. For example, some locations have higher costs of living than others, and some states don’t tax retirement income.

Do you have medical or healthcare concerns? Health considerations need to be factored into retirement income planning, including the rising cost of healthcare.

Are you a caregiver? People who have caregiving responsibilities may have additional expenses or considerations to take into account.

How comfortable are you with risk? Your retirement income plan should reflect your personal comfort level and risk tolerance.

Look at your entire financial picture

Another key element of building your retirement income plan is to look holistically at your family finances. That means evaluating all household assets and liabilities—including those held by a spouse or partner.

Start by identifying what sources of income you will have in retirement, including social security benefits, any pension payments you expect to receive, and money that will be earned if you expect to do any for-pay work.

Look at the other side of the ledger as well. What expenses will you have? This may include utility bills, mortgage payments, rent, health care spending and car payments. Determine how much income you will need to meet your obligations.

You should also take a close look at your personal debt to see how much interest you’re paying, when you will be clear of the obligation and how much of a priority it should be to pay off the debt early. There are effective methods for reducing and eliminating debt, and getting out from under can save you a substantial amount of money over time.

Consider your spending habits as well. You’ll have different income needs if you’re going out to shows or sporting events every weekend, compared to someone who prefers quiet evenings at home with the family. Understanding how you spend money today and envisioning how you will spend in the future provides valuable information when creating an income plan.

Finally, think about whether—and how much—money you plan to bequeath to family members and charities. The amount you want to give away will impact how you plan to generate and use your retirement income.

Find an experienced financial advisor

Retirement income planning can be complex, so it’s a good idea to get advice from someone who understands the process. A financial advisor can guide you through the many options and strategies available for meeting your unique needs.

For example, an advisor can help you look at whether guaranteed income would be right for you. Certain investments are more likely to provide predictable, regular income, which may be important when you consider that the average 65-year-old today will spend almost two decades in retirement.4

An advisor can also help you think through the portfolio makeup and retirement accounts that put you in the best position to achieve your desired goals. Some people may prefer an aggressive portfolio heavily weighted toward stocks, while others may want more security and downside protection. Meanwhile, different account types—offering either pre-tax or post-tax investments—have different pros and cons, and an advisor can help you decide what’s right for you.

Remember, professional advisory services can help you put the retirement income puzzle together by developing, implementing and tracking a plan that’s personalized for you. Now is the right time to get advice on the best path forward.

1 Empower, Retirement income: A modern approach driven by advice, March 2023.

2 “2022 Defined Contribution Research Study,” Invesco participant survey, October 2021.

3 Ibid.

4 Social Security Administration, Actuarial Life Table 2020, May 2023.


The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. No part of this blog, nor the links contained therein is a solicitation or offer to sell securities. Compensation for freelance contributions not to exceed $1,250. Third-party data is obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, Empower cannot guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, completeness or fitness of this data for any particular purpose. Third-party links are provided solely as a convenience and do not imply an affiliation, endorsement or approval by Empower of the contents on such third-party websites. 

Certain sections of this blog may contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions. Past performance is not a guarantee of future return, nor is it indicative of future performance. Investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate and you may lose money. 

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements. 

Advisory services are provided for a fee by Empower Advisory Group, LLC (“EAG”). EAG is a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and subsidiary of Empower Annuity Insurance Company of America. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training.