1. Money

It isn't unusual for the financial press to make retirement saving more complicated than it really is.  At its core, all retirement saving represents is the process of converting your human capital into financial capital so that you can collect dividends, interest income, and rents from stocks, bonds, and real estate in lieu of a paycheck from an employer once you are unable or unwilling to show up to the office.

How comfortable your retirement is comes down to a handful of very important factors:

1. How much financial capital you have,
2. The after-tax, net-of-inflation risk-adjusted return you earn on that financial capital, and
3. The surplus or deficiency of that income relative to your household income during the peak earning years of your career.

When you understand this, it becomes much easier to gauge your progress and calculate whether you are on path for a sound, enjoyable, golden sunset or a nail-biting, hair-pulling, stress-inducing maelstrom caused by a constant fear of lack.

Comments
December 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm
(1) J Lowe says:

Dear Mr. Kennon,

Excellent article. Question: Can penalty free IRA distributions be taken to pay off student loans? I.e. is the loan a ‘qualified education expense’ to preclude the 10% early withdrawal penalty?

Most grateful for your reply.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.