I’m retiring on my 78th birthday, have over $200,000 in savings and share expenses with my 80-year-old boyfriend. Will I be okay?

My total income is about $65,000, including Social Security. I am currently saving about 41% of my salary. I have about $135,000 in retirement money and will have about $15,000 to $18,000 by February. I also have about $82,000 in savings. I have no debt and live with and share the costs with my boyfriend who is 80. He has me in his will for another $50,000 if he succeeds. When I retire, my Social Security should be about $17,000 a year.

Am I good for a few years? I don’t spend much and I am very frugal.

To see: We’ve saved $8 million for retirement, are in our early 50s and want to retire early, but worry about healthcare costs – what can we do?

Dear reader,

This is certainly not the most popular answer to give, but the truth is – it depends. (At least it’s better than saying ‘no’, right?)

Before you get discouraged or angry, know that there are many, many variables that determine whether someone will be safe after retirement. It’s also important to note that everything can change, and even people who have amassed a million dollars or more for retirement can find themselves in a predicament that forces them to return to work or adjust their spending.

Please also note that we do not have all the figures, nor do we have a clear overview of whether the figures you referred to were gross or net. So, as always, everything I write in this article will be a general starting point and I recommend that you work with a financial planner (if only temporarily) to put yourself in a position where you feel comfortable and safe. about your pension.

Also know that your savings rate is absolutely phenomenal, and one to be admired. It is certainly not easy to save more than 40% of your salary, regardless of age or income class, so be proud of that.

Now to what you need to know!

There are many variables that determine whether or not someone will be “OK” when they retire. Your expenses and your lifespan will be two of the most important components to your retirement security, said Kevin Gahagan, a certified financial planner and director of consulting firm Private Ocean. For example, you asked if you’d be okay for “a few years.” I’m not sure why you asked for a couple of years, but if it’s a longevity issue for you or your partner, that can be quite different! Anyway, if that means five to seven years, then most likely yes, Gahagan said. “The longer the period, the more uncertain the outcome becomes,” he added. Longevity is also one of those things that people just can’t guess, although they can use family history and current health status to estimate.

It’s great that you are frugal, if you do it naturally and not because you feel like you can’t afford a different lifestyle. That said, try to ensure that your future expenses mimic your current expenses, especially since you will lose your largest source of income.

“If nothing changes for her or her boyfriend’s lifestyle, she should be able to keep her savings and income going for about 10 years, given the necessary distribution rates to maintain her current standard of living,” said Dana Menard, a certified public health officer. financial planner and founder of Twin Cities Wealth Strategies. “That will be the driving force in terms of her ability to not survive her money.”

Also try to take into account the unknown expenses, or for the emergencies. Healthcare is one of those things that you need to plan realistically. Healthcare costs have continued to rise every year and it only gets more expensive as a person gets older. Try to assess what those costs might be when calculating your future spending habits. “Healthcare and long-term care spending can be quite expensive and can be unexpected, especially for a couple approaching 80,” Menard said.

I also want to talk about the investments you currently have. Because of your age, your investment goal should be “capital preservation,” Gahagan said. In other words, focus on fixed income, such as bonds.

Does this mean you can’t have any of your investments in stocks? Of course not. You do want the money saved to grow at a healthy pace, but overexposure to stocks can be risky.

You may want to consider working with a financial planner, as I suggested, or talking to an advisor at the company that houses your retirement savings to discuss what investment options are available to you. For example, you may want to have some money in stocks or growth-oriented investments (such as a stock index fund or real estate index fund), but that should be limited to no more than 20% of your total portfolio, Gahagan said. (Your total portfolio includes retirement savings and outside savings.) You need to balance your fixed income and equity needs with your actual risk tolerance, and a professional can help you do that.

Gahagan calculated some numbers, and assuming the numbers you provided were gross (ie pre-tax), he estimated that you might need a 12% withdrawal rate on your total savings. He did this by assuming your work income is $48,000 and then subtracting your 41% savings rate, leaving you with an additional $28,000 income.

The following is an example of a type of portfolio allocation you might consider, and how it might work for you: 15% in cash, 20% in short-term bonds, 25% in medium-term bonds, 20% in long-term bonds, 15% in US stock index funds and 5% in real estate index funds. That type of portfolio (which can be thought of as 80% bonds, 20% stocks/real estate) could (the keyword is “maybe”) generate returns of 3% to 3.5%, Gahagan said. With an assumed inflation rate of 2% going forward, a withdrawal rate of 12% would be unsustainable and your wealth would decline in ten years or more. If you could lower your withdrawal rate to 6%, you could double the life of your assets.

Menard reflects the balance between fixed income and equities. You don’t want to have too much exposure to stocks, because that’s risky, but if you don’t have anything in that asset class when fixed-income investments yield next to nothing, your portfolio may struggle to keep up with rising costs, Menard said.

Another option is a single-premium immediate annuity using your retirement account, Menard said. This would bring in about $1,000 a month in income, and with your Social Security, that’s about $29,000 in “guaranteed income” a year. (Just know that there is a lot to understand about annuities, of which there are many types, so before pursuing one, learn what they are, how they work, and which one is right for you.)

Again, there are many variables that affect retirement security, and there are no guarantees with investments of any kind.

View MarketWatch’s column “Pension Hacks” for useful advice for your own retirement savings journey

I just wanted to point out a few more things to keep in mind when making your retirement plans.

First, keep in mind that you’ll need to take minimum benefits from your workplace plan after you retire. You would have until April 1, 2023 to take your first RMD, after which the deadline would be the end of the year, said Eric Bind, a wealth advisor at Bond Wealth Management. You may want to withdraw your RMD the year you retire so that you don’t have to take two in 2023 (one before April 1 and the other December 31) — that delay could affect your tax liabilities.

Another suggestion I strongly encourage: Assess estate plans, for you and your significant other. Look at health care proxies and financial proxies, which would appoint each other to manage your estates in the event of disability, Gahagan said. You should also discuss who will act as the executor of the other person’s estate when a person dies, as well as who will be the executor, if any, if the former is unable to act. You said that your friend has a will, but you also need to make one so that your wealth is distributed as you intended.

There are so many questions that you and your friend should seriously consider. Bind had a few in particular: If one of you owns the house you both live in, what happens to it if one of you dies? If you don’t own the house, is there a plan for an affordable home? Do you have each other’s names on HIPPA forms so that doctors can share sensitive information with the other person? What are your bank accounts called and is that money split outside of the inheritance stated in the will? Are your beneficiaries and conditional beneficiaries on retirement accounts updated?

Finally, while you’re still at work for the next few months, why not try a test run — that is, practice how you’ll live in retirement, Menard said. “She should set up her accounts to provide for the income she will receive when she retires,” he said. “This will give her the opportunity to see if she will feel comfortable or if she needs to supplement her regular income and will give her more peace of mind when her official retirement starts in less than a year.”

I wish you good luck – and an early happy birthday.

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Do you have a question about your own retirement savings? Email us at HelpMeRetire@marketwatch.com

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