Plan for a Long Life When Saving for Retirement

Online calculators can help you estimate your life expectancy and determine how much money you'll need to retire.

If we knew we would die tomorrow, we’d be rich today. I don’t mean rich in appreciation for life, although that’s probably true, too. I mean literally rich. With only one day to live, a nest egg of $100,000 would be enough to take a trip around the world (at lightning speed), buy a Tesla or live in the lap of luxury—for that one day.

But barring a crystal ball, we can’t know how much time we have left on this planet. Meanwhile, the major retirement decisions—-how much to save, how long to work, when to take Social Security and how much to withdraw each year from retirement accounts—-hinge on how many years you can reasonably expect to be around.

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Jane Bennett Clark
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
The late Jane Bennett Clark, who passed away in March 2017, covered all facets of retirement and wrote a bimonthly column that took a fresh, sometimes provocative look at ways to approach life after a career. She also oversaw the annual Kiplinger rankings for best values in public and private colleges and universities and spearheaded the annual "Best Cities" feature. Clark graduated from Northwestern University.