How Much Do You Need for a Comfortable Retirement?

Most people think they need slightly more income than they currently have.

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Most people think they need to earn slightly more money than their current paychecks contain in order to feel comfortable, a new survey found.

Almost a quarter (24 percent) of adults say they need over $100,000 annually to achieve a comfortable lifestyle, according to a recent Gallup and USA Today poll of 1,032 adults. Another quarter (24 percent) of the workers surveyed say between $50,000 and $74,999 produces an adequate standard of living. However, less than a third (31 percent) of Americans think earning less than $50,000 annually produces an acceptable lifestyle. Here’s a look at how comfortable people feel in each of these annual income brackets.

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Less than $30,000. The majority of workers earning below $30,000 annually aspire to earn more than they do now (72 percent). Most are aiming to bring home between $30,000 and $49,999 (38 percent) or between $50,000 and $99,999 (27 percent).

$30,000 to $49,999. Most people in this income range would also like to make more money. While over a third (38 percent) of people earning between $30,000 and $49,999 say their current salary is adequate, many individuals think they would be more comfortable if they earned between $50,000 and $99,999 annually (45 percent) or are shooting to make over $100,000 (12 percent). Just 5 percent of those surveyed say their lifestyle wouldn’t suffer if their annual income dropped below $30,000.

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$50,000 to $99,999. Individuals earning between $50,000 and $99,999 each year appear to be happy with their income. Some 60 percent of people earning this amount say they are able to live comfortably on their current salary. Just over a quarter (29 percent) of people in this income bracket say they need to earn over $100,000 to feel comfortable. However, only 10 percent say earning below $50,000 each year would be adequate.

$100,000 to $149,999. Many Americans earning between $100,000 and $149,999 each year admit that they could still live comfortably on less (40 percent). Just over a third (36 percent) of people earning this amount say their current income is the necessary amount to be comfortable. And about a quarter (24 percent) of these high earners feel that they have not yet achieved a comfortable lifestyle.

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The challenge for retirees is to recreate a comfortable level of income without working. Social Security provides a base amount of income for most retirees, but not enough to live beyond the lowest income bracket by itself. The average monthly Social Security benefit for retired workers in December 2010 was $1,175.50. That would produce an income of $14,106 per year. The maximum possible Social Security benefit a worker who retires at age 66 in 2011 could get is $28,392 annually. Retirees need to come up with any amount they need above what Social Security provides on their own using pensions, investments, and personal savings.

Twitter: @aiming2retire