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How much should I have saved for retirement by 60?

Man in 60s using camera during photography course
Maskot/Getty Images/Maskot

Some 60-year-olds are looking forward to several more years of a fruitful career, but others are enjoying the prospect of retirement right around the corner. It's a crucial time to check how close you are to your retirement savings goal. While the answer to "How much retirement should I have at 60?" depends on your personal circumstances, here are some ways to see where you stand and figure out what to do next.

How much retirement should I have at 60?

A general rule for retirement savings by age 60 is to aim to have about seven to eight times your current salary saved up. This means someone earning $75,000 a year would ideally have between $525,000 to $600,000 in retirement savings at that age.

If you aren't there yet, you're not alone. Slightly less than half of people age 60 and older felt their savings were on track, according to a 2020 report from the Federal Reserve. Generic recommendations for retirement savings by age also may not match your personal retirement goals and income needs so it's important to work with a professional on a reasonable retirement income plan.

How can you calculate how much you will need in retirement?

Since everyone's need for retirement income is different based on lifestyle, salary, and other goals, use a retirement income calculator to get a sense of how you're doing. This is something you can do on your own, or with the help of a financial advisor.

First, estimate how much you may need per year for your retirement budget. Where do you want to live? What will your monthly living expenses be like? And don't forget about additional medical expenses. Be sure to consider expenses that will go away, such as paying off a mortgage or costs related to working, such as commuting and parking.

As you budget, consider wants as well as needs. In retirement, every day is a Saturday. You could find yourself surprised by the amount you want to spend on travel, entertainment, and hobbies like sports recreation. Factor these into your budget so you can factor in all the things you want your retirement to be.

Next, consider all your guaranteed sources of retirement income. This includes Social Security, pensions and any financial products (such as an annuity) that provides guaranteed income. Your savings are meant to supplement the gaps to help cover your needs, wants and wishes when you retire. For example, if you anticipate needing $60,000 a year in retirement and will receive a combined $30,000 from Social Security and a pension, you will need to plan on drawing $30,000 a year from your savings.

Once you have considered all of your income sources, it's critical to put together a strategy to turn your assets into income. You've saved money throughout your working years and not all assets are treated the same when it comes time to spending them. Developing an optimal strategy that matches your retirement income style and considers your entire picture will provide the confidence most people seek in retirement. There are available tools to help you get there (Try our IncomeMatch assessment).

How can you catch up on your retirement savings?

If your savings aren't where you'd like them to be, don't be discouraged. Whether you were unable to save early in your career or are still dealing with pandemic-related financial losses, making extra contributions, downsizing your expenses, checking your investment strategy, delaying retirement and re-imagining your retirement lifestyle can help you catch up on your retirement savings:

Make catch-up contributions

Consider whether you can go over budget in the amount you're currently setting aside for retirement. Even an extra $50 every month can make a difference.

You may have the option to put more in your retirement account now than you did when you were younger. After age 50, you can make catch-up contributions. In 2022, the annual catch up contribution is $1,000 for individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and $6,500 a year for a 401(k). That means you can put a total of $7,000 per year in IRAs and $27,000 in a 401(k).

Bottom line: Saving more can help you boost your financial flexibility.

Downsize your expenses

To save more, determine what expenses you could trim during the last years of your career. That might include canceling gym memberships and subscriptions, dining out less or taking public transit more often.

This could be a chance to test out your retirement lifestyle. For example, if you think you're going to downsize to a smaller house, why not move a little earlier? The amount you save on utilities, property taxes or other expenses could go toward retirement savings. You could also try living on your target retirement budget for a few months and see whether it's realistic based on your expenses.

Downsizing doesn't your budget doesn't necessarily meant that you need to downsize your house. Just take note of what you are spending monthly and look for ways to save on wants vs needs. A budget can illuminate excess spending that could go to saving.

Check your investment strategy

Investing is a balance between risk and return. As you approach retirement, it might be tempting to move all your money into safe assets like cash or bonds. While you may move to a more conservative investment approach as you approach the retirement finish line, consider two overall investment buckets: near term assets and long-term growth assets.

1. Near-term assets

Near-term assets that readily accessible and can provide stable sources for two to five year's worth of retirement income beyond what's provided by guaranteed sources (such as Social Security).

These assets:

• Should be liquid with low volatility to help protect your principal.

• Help provide security so that you can invest more aggressively in growth equities.

• Could include some tax diversification options.

2. Long-term growth assets

A long-term growth bucket of assets contains equity investments to help achieve long-term growth. While these assets are more likely to face short-term losses, historically they have earned a higher return than bonds.

Stock market exposure can help your retirement savings keep up with inflation, which is on the forefront of our minds these days, as you:

• Invest for the long run with a focus on long-term growth.

• Continually review and adjust your investments with assistance from your financial advisor.

• Diversify assets and income sources among different tax categories. This helps you anticipate and react to changing tax rules and personal circumstances that may alter your tax situation.

Shifting to a portfolio with more growth assets could help your portfolio return in these last years of your career, while also increasing the income you would receive once you retire.

An efficient retirement investment portfolio should align with your risk tolerance.If the thought of losses really scares you, you can take a more conservative investment approach, but just be aware that you may need to save more or spend less in retirement to make up for the lower expected return. If you are unsure about your investment mix, talk with a financial advisor about your goals.

Delay retirement or pursue part-time work

If you are okay with continuing to work, you might consider putting off retirement. Each extra year of work is another year you can put more money aside and not draw down your savings. It's also a chance to delay Social Security. You can start taking Social Security payments at age 62, but every month you wait increases the payout, though benefits reach a maximum at age 70. If your other retirement savings are a little short, these tactics may help make up the difference.

Another option is to take on part-time work at the start of retirement. This could be a chance to follow a passion, such as teaching a class or working at a local historic site. Any income means less money you'll have to take out of your savings.

Re-imagine your retirement lifestyle

If it's been a while since you've looked at your planned retirement budget, check in. Think about any substitutions you could make to reduce your anticipated costs. For example, would you want to move to a state with lower income taxes and a lower cost of living? If you were planning to travel, could you go to more affordable destinations? A lower spending budget in retirement will let you get by with less in savings.

What if you have more retirement savings than you need?

After using the retirement income calculator, you might have realized you have more in savings than you thought. While a big pot of money on its own doesn't necessarily mean you have enough for retirement, if you realize you have enough to generate guaranteed income to cover your retirement budget, you potentially have room to cut back on how much you're putting away for retirement. You could redirect some of that money for a family member's tuition, a dream vacation or a charitable donation. Or maybe you'll want to retire early. After all, you can start taking money out of certain retirement plans once you turn 59½.

Don't rush into this decision, however—especially if you enjoy working. With more in savings, you would be better protected in case of a market downturn, health emergency or other costly surprise comes up.

It won't hurt to have more in savings, but there are strategies that may be more efficient depending on what you'd like to do with any extra money. Flexibility is key, so you can make adjustments as things change.

If your work structure allows it, consider doing a trial retirement. Take off as much time as you can as temporary leave and try living your planned retired life. It may help you decide if you're ready to retire. And if you don't, there's nothing wrong with working longer and saving more for yourself and your loved ones.

How can you double-check your retirement plan?

As you prepare for this crucial stretch in your retirement plan, it could be a good time to meet with a financial advisor, who can help you run the numbers in more detail. Together, you can determine how much retirement you should have at 60 based on your unique, personal life goals. Then you can adjust your plan and figure out next steps.

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Thrivent and its financial advisors and professionals do not provide legal, accounting or tax advice. Consult your attorney or tax professional

Thrivent financial advisors and professionals have general knowledge of the Social Security tenets. For complete details on your situation, contact the Social Security Administration.