Is a million dollars enough to retire happy?

I was asked on Alberta Primetime to talk address address the question “Is a million dollars enough for retirement?“. Ironically that is the million-dollar question itself.

In a recent study by TD Bank:

  • three-quarters of respondents ages 18 to 34 said it is unlikely they’ll be worth $1 million or more by the time they retire
  • Only one in ten could see themselves getting to a cool million by simply saving enough money and
  • one third of these respondents said “their best bet for becoming a millionaire is winning the lottery

“It depends”

For some, a million dollars will not be enough. After all, a million dollars today is not what it used to be and a million dollars 25 years from now will certainly not hold the same value.

What’s also true however is that for many, a million dollars is more than enough. Just look around your life at people you know that are retired who are living happy and successful retirements without a million dollars or more in their portfolios. Personally I know more of these people than people who retired with millions. Here’s some examples of successful and happy retirees:

Is this more financial pornography?

Lately, I’ve written about pornography in the financial and retirement industry:

Is this million dollar benchmark another case of financial pornography? Who came up with this notion that you need a million to be happy and to retire comfortably? How much of this is because the financial industry, the media and society says you need to plan to have millions and millions of dollars?

Retirement is not a number

If you think about it, the financial industry often thinks of wealth as a number. A number is the common answer to the popular question “How much is enough?”

The solution to this question is to use a retirement calculator where you input a bunch of numbers and the output is some magical number that will get you to your desired destination. Whether the number is $3.8 million dollars or $262,983.12, the result is a number that we have difficulty understanding. I say this because the number just creates more questions like how much income will that pay me? When will the money run out? How do I invest my money to get that amount when I retire? And even is that really enough?

Retirement is personal

So let’s get back to the answer “It depends”. Planning is personal and the best way to plan is to plan it for you. Why uses someone else’splan like the average Joe or Jane in Canada?

Retirement anxiety is a big issue in Canada and one of the cures is simple – start planning. Too many people spend more time planning 15 day vacations than 15 years of retirement. And yet, retirement could be the most important vacation you might have in your life. Maybe we need to plan our retirements like we plan our vacations. There are no shortage of great ideas and tips to help your retirement plan.

Good planning makes a big difference. There’s an old saying that says “You can live your life by chance or choice, it’s up to you.” People who don’t plan are leaving their future up to chance. Why not put a little personal choice into your plan?


  1. tim

    so you guys didn’t explain exactly how people are going to get 6.5% on investments, without taking huge risks…

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