The big question on many American’s minds is how much they need to save to have a comfortable retirement. Simple question right? Wrong. The amount needed to save each paycheck is based on how long a saver has until retirement, the amount of years in retirement, the rate of growth they can expect from their savings, how much money they need to cover retirement living expenses, and the amount of growth their savings will earn during retirement. Fidelity put out a good piece called “The math of retirement savings” which does a good job of explaining the different inputs which effect retiree’s outcomes. That’s why having a “living plan,” is so important for those seeking peace of mind that they have a personalized financial strategy to help them accomplish their goals.
But the bigger question lies with the unknowns of this world. If you save every penny, and then die young, you were wrong. If you barely save a dime, and then live a long life, you may spend your retirement in poverty and also have been wrong. Often “feelings” towards money are created by years of experiences and relationships, along with anecdotal realities people witness happening to those closest to them. To help understand all of this requires more than just math based financial advice. True financial guidance involves a sober look at the math of investing as well as an appreciation for biases that may be driving one’s behavior. If we can unpack the realities of what motivates someone’s feelings towards consumption today versus saving for tomorrow, we increase our chances of successful investing.