So, you have a million dollars in retirement funds. Good enough?

For many years, the goal of having an accumulated retirement fund worth $1 million was considered adequate to ensure a comfortable lifestyle in the final stage of life. Like many of the questions folks have about Social Security, the answer to whether or not this is realistic is likely a resounding “Well, it depends.” In fact, there are quite a few variables that need to be considered in this planning exercise, any of which can sway one’s opinion quickly. Call them “known unknowns,” to quote a 2002 term from U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. For example, how many years will you need to fund in retirement? Another factor is where you choose to live out you retirement years (call that a “known known, Rumsfeld again), since some cities are way more expensive than others.

Yahoo!Finance reporter Cameron Huddleston has done some extensive on this issue and, with the help of Bureau of Labor Statistics and cost-of-living indices from Sperling’s Best Places, has assembled a ranking of the how long a million-dollar retirement fund will support you in the 50 largest U.S. cities. The study takes cost-of-living data for each city, factors in average Social Security benefits, and calculates how long the million will last. It’s a fascinating array, from San Francisco (at 8 years and 3 months) to Memphis (at 45 years and 4 months).

For the details, take a look at Ms. Huddleston’s post, which you can access here… But no matter where you decide to take up residence, know that one of your options is always to hedge your bet with maximized Social Security benefits. Deferring your initial benefit date, for example, can add substantially to your monthly payment in later years. The issue of maximizing survivor benefits for couples is another area where careful planning can benefit you down the line. If you’re unsure about Social Security details–it is complex, after all–keep in mind that the AMAC Foundation offers a free-to-the-public service that can help you. Our Social Security Advisory Service has helped many thousands of Americans navigate the complexities of this program. Learn more about it here…


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