Planning for retirement can be challenging, especially when you’re trying to factor in a combination of a military position and a civilian work history. However, you’re probably in a better place than most civilian workers because you have a dual retirement option. Determining your retirement income needs can seem like it’s too far away to think about, but if you start laying the right foundation now, by the time you’re ready to retire completely, you’ll be well prepared to enjoy everything you’ve worked for.
Factoring in future lifestyle requirements, rising Tricare costs, health expenses, inflation, and cost of living increases can be tough. It’s likely impossible to come up with a specific number of the amount you’re going to need each month, but you can still determine a rough idea to help guide your savings.
Determining future income needs is essential. If you’re planning on having a similar quality of life in retirement as you do now, then you should be saving based on what you’re currently earning. The key factor in this approach is understanding how to factor inflation into savings plans. Inflation is the general increase in prices and the decrease of the purchasing value of money.
Let’s imagine you’re making $45,000 a year. If we expect that inflation is going to be about 3% and you have 25 years before you’re ready to retire fully, you’re going to need about $95K to live the same way you’re living right now. That doesn’t mean that you need to save enough money right now to have that $95K available each year of retirement. When you take into account your social security benefits, military pension, and any civilian pension, you’ve got a larger well from which to draw the funds you need to keep your quality of life. Once you have a good idea of how much you’re going to need, then subtract that number from your current income and let that be your annual savings goal.
When you start planning for retirement early, the better off you’ll be in the long run. That doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. The most important thing to consider is your future income needs and start working from there. Making the most out of savings plans will help considerably when you’re mapping out your retirement. Once you formulate your plan, it’s important to actively and consistently monitor the progress of its growth. If your money isn’t growing at a rate that seems acceptable for your goals, consider investing in other areas. Make sure you have a clear exit strategy too. That is, have a clearly defined age at which you plan to begin withdrawing your retirement funds. The goal here is to manage your money well enough, so you don’t run out of assets too early.