Retire with $1 million?: a complete guide

1 min readLast updated June 4, 2024by Rachel Carey

From how long it will last to how much tax you’ll pay, this article takes you through everything you need to know if you plan to retire with $1 million in savings.

Summary

  • $1 million should be enough to see you through your retirement.

  • If you choose to retire early, you may need additional savings and amend your desired retirement lifestyle to live a little more frugally.

  • Your tax bracket and how much you pay should also be considered when planning how much money you’ll need for retirement.

  • If you want to get ready for retirement, a trusted financial advisor can help you manage your finances and ensure your retirement savings align with your goals.  

Can I retire with $1 million?

How much is enough to retire? Would $1 million cover all your expenses in the post-work phase of your life? Theoretically, yes. It is very possible. If we work through an example scenario, we can see this: 

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You plan to retire at 60 and place your life expectancy at 90, so you’ll need an income to carry you through 30 years. With $1 million, assuming your money doesn’t increase or decrease too dramatically in value during those 30 years, you’ll be guaranteed a minimum of $33,333 annually or $2,778 monthly. 

For many Americans, $2,778 per month would be more than enough at a time in life when monthly outgoings are at their lowest and large loans such as mortgages are fully paid off, especially with possible supplementary income from sources like Social Security on the table. On average, in 2023, Social Security is ​$1,782 per person per month. These figures would combine for a total of $4,650 pre-tax. 

This figure could be reduced considerably if you planned to retire early, leaving the working world behind at 50 or 55 to extend the length of your peaceful and relaxing golden years. You could also struggle to make the $2,778 figure work in the first place if: 

  • You have a particularly lavish retirement lifestyle in mind. 

  • You have a lot of ongoing financial commitments you still want to meet as a retiree. 

  • You’re planning to support a dependent as a retiree. 

How long will $1 million last in retirement?

As mentioned above, the odds are in your favor that retiring on a million dollars will be possible and viable. But the odds are only the odds, and you’ll find that things can change a lot once you start adding variables for retirement age and lifestyle.  

Let’s run through some examples to give you an idea of what we mean: 

Planned retirement agePlanned retirement lifestyleEstimated monthly income requirementNecessary total retirement income amount (assuming a life expectancy of 90)
45 Frugal, minimalistic $1,000 $540,000
Moderate, balanced $2,000 $1,080,000
Lavish, expensive $4,000 $2,160,000
50 Frugal, minimalistic $1,000 $480,000
Moderate, balanced $2,000 $960,000
Lavish, expensive $4,000 $1,920,000
55 Frugal, minimalistic $1,000 $420,000
Moderate, balanced $2,000 $840,000
Lavish, expensive $4,000 $1,680,000
60 Frugal, minimalistic $1,000 $360,000
Moderate, balanced $2,000 $720,000
Lavish, expensive $4,000 $1,440,000
65 Frugal, minimalistic $1,000 $300,000
Moderate, balanced $2,000 $600,000
Lavish, expensive $4,000 $1,200,000

How much does the average US citizen save for retirement?  

When most people start retirement planning and assessing the amount they’ll need as a retiree, they look to their peers. They ask, “What is the average retirement saving amount in the US?” and aim for this.  

According to data from the Federal Reserve’s ​2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, this is how things break down: 

Age groupAverage retirement savings balance (among those with any retirement savings)
Under 35s $30,170
35-44 $131,950
45-54 $254,720
55-64 $408,420
65-74 $426,070

In actuality, the average only tells you so much. You should pay more attention to ​​your own financial incomings, outgoings and demands. Whether a million dollars is above the average amount saved is irrelevant, to a degree, as it doesn’t determine how much you ideally need to save. 

How much tax will I pay if I retire with $1 million? 

Retirement income taxes will affect you if you have a million dollars or more earmarked for this era of your life. How much you’ll pay will depend on how much you earn overall and how your income comes to you. To summarize: 

  • Most income is taxed according to the federal government’s nine marginal rates. 

  • Over the long term, investment income is taxed differently and treated as capital gains, which might allow you to pay a lower rate than you would according to the usual marginal federal tax rates. 

  • Some retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and traditional IRAs, are pre-tax, so when you receive your retirement distributions, you’re taxed on them.  

  • Other retirement accounts like the Roth IRA are after-tax, meaning you pay tax when you initially contribute, and distributions as a retiree reach you tax-free. 

  • If you receive Social Security benefits, up to 85% of these could be taxed depending on your overall annual income and filing status. 

Can you retire at 50 with a million dollars? 

Yes, retiring on a million dollars at 50 years old is possible. Looking back at our calculations, it would likely allow you a monthly income of over $2,000. Additional income sources like Social Security could further increase this amount. 

It could also be boosted according to your needs by proper investment strategies. Strategies that allow your money to earn money, even once you’re out of the working world. Passive investment income is an incredibly helpful wealth retention strategy available when you have a million dollars in savings.

Can I retire at 65 with 1 million dollars?

Retiring at 65 with $1 million is entirely possible.

Suppose you need your retirement savings to last for 15 years. Using this figure, your $1 million would provide you with just over $66,000 annually. Should you need it to last a bit longer, say 25 years, you will have $40,000 a year to play with.

 These calculations do not factor in any additional income from other sources or the amount of taxes you will have to pay.

If it’s not something you’ve considered, it’s highly recommended you speak with a financial advisor. They can help you make your money go further and set you up for a comfortable and financially secure retirement.  

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How can I increase my savings and protect my $1 million?

Luckily, your existing savings of $1 million puts you in a great place to grow your wealth and increase that total with relative ease – especially if you have some time to play with between now and your hopeful retirement age. You can do this by: 

  • Developing a collaborative relationship with a qualified financial advisor – once your savings are reaching the millions, it’s vital that you take your money seriously. That you put steps in place to both retain and increase the wealth you’ve accumulated. Steps like connecting with an advisor who can meet your needs. 

  • Considering higher-risk, higher-return investments – if you’re already an investor but tend to stick to medium-risk or low-risk investments with matched returns, a financial advisor could help you earmark some of your money to branch out. A high-risk investment that pays off can make a huge financial difference. 

  • Keeping a watchful eye on your expenditures – this is especially important if those around you have a lavish lifestyle, and it’s easy to spend money without thinking about it. Spend as necessary, of course, but don’t spend for the sake of it when you don’t want to. Hold that money back for the future. 

The bottom line

You should be incredibly proud of your efforts if you’ve already saved a million dollars to fund your retirement.  

You should know how long it might last in various scenarios and be aware of anything else you might need to do to set yourself up for happiness and stability in your golden years. 

If you want further financial advice about retirement, you can connect with an SEC-regulated ​​advisor via Unbiased. Simply answer our five-minute survey, and an advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs will be in touch. Get started here

Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.

Looking to retire on $1 million?

A financial advisor can build a retirement plan tailored to you