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It might take a few years. It might take a few decades. But eventually, retirement comes for everyone. The so-called “golden years” will be upon you. Your life will likely change very significantly in a short amount of time.

There are often a lot of mixed feelings when it comes time to leave the workforce permanently. Some people are happy to be free from the burden of work. Others aren’t as thrilled and can struggle with newfound freedom. These feelings often depend on how much money they’ve put away for retirement.

Various studies in recent years have brought to light some alarming statistics. Roughly 50.2 percent of American women aged 55 to 66 have no personal retirement savings. Men of the same age weren’t far behind as 46.8 percent also have nothing saved. Perhaps worst of all, this information came from a study conducted in 2017. The coronavirus pandemic certainly wouldn’t have done them any favors.

The good news about retirement is that it’s never too late (or early) to start preparing for it. In addition to Social Security benefits, most Americans utilize 401(k) retirement income programs offered by their jobs. As a business owner, you’ll have a few more options that require more effort to get started. The faster you calculate your retirement, the more you can save up, and the smoother your transition into retirement will be.

 What information do you need to create a retirement plan?

Calculating your retirement goals is a highly complex mathematical formula. Many factors will play an essential role in how much in today’s dollars you need to save each year to get the desired future results. Before you can come up with a successful retirement plan, you’ll need to have the following information on hand:

  • Current age. A self-explanatory category, but an important one nonetheless. There is only so much time left before you intend to retire, so your current age is significant.
  • Expected age of retirement. The average retirement age is 64.6 for men and 62.3 for women. Depending on when you expect to retire, you’ll be able to figure out how much time you have left to save money.
  • Annual income. The amount of money you make will play a significant factor in calculating your retirement. The more money you drive annually, the more you can comfortably save for retirement. 
  • Annual savings. How much are you putting toward your savings each year? Financial planners suggest that you deposit between 10 and 15 percent of your pre-tax yearly salary into your retirement account.
  • Current retirement savings. Hopefully, you’ve already saved some retirement money in an account. If not, you might need to increase the percentage you keep each year to make up for the lost time.
  • Estimated Social Security income. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve been paying into Social Security since you started working. The money will eventually be reimbursed to you whenever you retire. The average Social Security retirement benefit in January 2022 was roughly $1,614 monthly. These funds aren’t usually enough to survive alone but can come in handy when added to your other savings. 
  • Expected rate of return. Savings and investments come with a rate of return that will vary depending on the type of account. It’s tough to predict the future rate of return for investments, especially as the economy is still somewhat shaky. However, you should have a good idea of an expected rate of return based on prior experiences with previous investments. If you’re unsure, then select a low percentage to be safe. 
  • Anticipated income increase. The average annual raise for employees is around 3 percent. It can be challenging to estimate this category reasonably as a business owner. If you’re unsure, it’s better to underestimate potential raises than overestimate them. 
  • Rate of inflation. The exact inflation rate will vary yearly, but it typically hovers around 2 percent. Inflation is one of the worst things that can happen to your retirement savings. As the overall worth of a dollar goes down, the amount in your savings account will be devalued. The only way to combat inflation is to ensure you save enough to neutralize its effects.
  • Income needed for retirement. Retirement will be much more enjoyable if you can enjoy your current standard of living. You’ll need to determine what percentage of your current annual income you want to be able to spend when you retire. To avoid budgeting problems, you should avoid going any lower than 40 percent and no higher than 160 percent.
  • Years of income required. Another estimate that can be difficult to determine from so far away. You need to figure out how many years you’ll be retired. The life expectancy in the U.S. has fallen in the last few years from 78.86 in 2019 to 76.6 in 2021. When you retire, you may need to rely on your savings for a long time. Remember that it’s always better to overestimate and save more money than you need.

The exact formula for determining your retirement is too challenging to write out. If you want to calculate your specific retirement plan, then you can do that for free here. An example retirement plan can give you an idea of what to expect:

Let’s say you’re 45 and want to retire at age 67. That will give you 22 more years to save for retirement. You make about $60,000 annually and anticipate a three percent annual increase. 

You already have $35,000 in your retirement account and are now adding 15 percent of your income each year. You’re planning to only spend 75 percent of your annual budget after retiring, expect a seven percent rate of return on your investments, and believe inflation will average 2.9 percent annually.

Based on these factors, you would have $657,980 saved by the time that you retire. This total takes into account $34,111 from Social Security each year. You would be able to spend $83,713 each year (75 percent of your last year’s income) for 14 years before your retirement runs out.

What are the options for retirement accounts?

Retirement accounts aren’t one-size-fits-all, and there are several options available. For example, the 401(k) retirement plan is easily the most common type of retirement account. However, it’s not the only one and might not be the best option for you as a business owner. You’ll need to decide which types of retirement accounts you want to open.

  • 401(k). Most 401(k) plans are offered through employers. As of 2021, the IRS permits you to contribute up to $20,500 annually to your 401(k) up to age 50. After turning 50, you can contribute up to $27,000. A lot of employers will match a certain percentage of the annual contributions. This match offers typically cap out at 50 cents on the dollar for up to six percent of your yearly salary.
  • Solo 401(k). These plans are designed for business owners that are self-employed and don’t have any other employees. The contribution limit for a solo 401(k) is much higher than a traditional 401(k). The current contribution limit in 2022 is $61,000. You also utilize a catch-up contribution for an extra $6,500 after age 50. 
  • 457(b). These retirement plans are made available by state and local governments. The annual contribution limit for 457(b) accounts is the same as traditional 401(k) plans. Unfortunately, there are no matching offers made by the government to help boost your savings.
  • IRA. Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) do exactly what the name would suggest. The main issue with traditional IRAs is that the contribution limit is only $6,000 annually ($7,000 after age 50). That’s less than half the conventional 401(k) limit. The good news is that you’ll receive a tax deduction for any money you put into an IRA. Remember that the funds will be considered taxable income whenever you withdraw them.
  • Roth IRA. A Roth IRA has the same annual contribution limits as a regular IRA. The critical difference is that you’ll pay taxes on the amount you contribute to a Roth IRA upfront. The money inside your Roth IRA will grow tax-free, and no income tax payments will be due when you withdraw it during retirement. 
  • SEP IRA. The Simplified Employee Pension IRA is designed for small-business owners with several employees. There are a few eligibility requirements for SEP IRAs, but this is one of the best options for business owners. If eligible, you can contribute up to 25 percent of your current income or $58,000, whichever is less. No taxes are paid on your contributions, so you’ll have to pay income taxes when you withdraw them.

Start saving for the future today

The best time to start planning for retirement was yesterday, the second best time is today, and the worst is tomorrow. You only have so many years left of working before you retire. It might feel like a long time, but the time can fly before you know it. 

There’s a looming retirement crisis in America that’s going to affect millions of people in the next several years. If you don’t want to be a part of these struggles, you should get serious about your retirement sooner rather than later.

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Information provided on Entrepreneur Guide is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, advisory or brokerage services, we do not recommend or advise individuals to buy or sell particular stocks or securities. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results

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