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What do you need to do to retire with $1 million?


Did I have you at $1 million?

Look, I actually think you shouldn’t worry yourself sick about having millions saved for retirement – even $1 million. How much you need to save to have a comfortable retirement depends on so much.

My grandmother Big Mama didn’t have $1 million saved. She had exactly $20,000 saved. And you know how much she had when she died some 20 years after retiring?

She had $20,000.

Big mama lived off her Social Security benefit and a small pension. The key was she didn’t want for much so she kept her expenses low. She paid off her home before she retired. And she hated debt so she didn’t carry any into retirement.

But you may want more.

So what would it take to save $1 million or more for retirement? Here’s some reading that may help you achieve that goal.
How do I retire with $1 million?

Start with $10,000 and retire a millionaire

Do you need $1 million to retire? Maybe.

Now, here’s the thing. Don’t read these articles and get depressed. Don’t get discouraged. Whatever you end up saving will help. It’s better than not saving anything.

Retirement rants and raves

I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement.

Did you retire early and if so, how did you do it?

Is retirement everything you hoped for?

Are you scared you’ll run out of money?

Your sharing might help others. So send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”

Not a rant or a rave but John Wickizer of Arizona offered some great insight about retirement.

He’s 74 and his wife is 75. Both are retired. It’s not money he wanted to talk about.

“The reason I am writing is to alert those in retirement mode not to get overly caught up the lives of their adult children and grandchildren,” Wickizer wrote. “Will they at some point in their lives have to face financial challenges? Yes, you bet. Most of us who love our children and grandchildren want to make their lives as easy and comfortable as possible.”

But take a pause. Maybe you shouldn’t be giving so much, Wickizer says.

“We have found the more we give to make their lives easier the more they want and/or need,” he wrote. “I know a lot of folks out there will say, ‘Just cut them off.’ If it were only that easy! But there has to be a point of reasonableness, I have to make sure our needs are first met, then anything above our set retirement monies can be considered to aid others! I guess more than anything it’s dealing with uncertain times both politically and economically, the state of our old world in balancing on a thin wire, no one knows what will bring our castles tumbling down! Just be wise in your giving! Good luck out there!”

Love this advice!

Here’s more reading on this topic.
6 Ways to Help an Adult Child Without Going Broke

An open letter to parents who financially support adult children

I’d love to hear from retirees who are concerned that they are giving too much to helping adult children or grandchildren. Send your comments to

And if you’ve been in this situation and cut off the financial spigot help others. How did you do it?

Retirement blog
I believe that wealth happens intentionally and this means for me reading as much as I can about all things financial, especially retirement.

In this section of the newsletter, I’ll feature postings from various retirement blogs. Recommend a favorite blog post and I’ll featured it in the newsletter (and give you credit for spotting it!). Send the link to

This week’s blog post by Squared Away had me at the title: Beach Reads for and about Old Folks

“Who wants to spend their beach vacation reading about growing older? These recommendations just might surprise you,” Kim Blanton writes.

Retirement assignment
This week, I want you to do something. Go to and sign up to receive scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission.

The latest scam alert will help a lot of grandparents out there: Grandpa spots scammers

This story involves Lou, who knew someone was trying to scam him. But Lou, who is 87, was quick to spot the con, writes Seena Gressin, an attorney with the FTC’s division of consumer and business education.

He knew it was a scam, “almost as soon as he heard the young man call him ‘grandpa.’ The caller said he’d been arrested for drunk driving, needed money for bail, and wanted Lou to call a ‘lawyer’ who would explain everything. (All while not telling, ‘mom.’)”

Read this alert and the common tricks scammers use and then pass it along to someone elderly you know. (This is your assignment too. You may be quick to spot a scam, but others may not be so fortunate).

Every week from now on I’m adding this new retirement assignment feature. There’s so much to know and keep watch on once you retired. Whether you’re three or 30 years away from retirement you need to plan for the time you can’t or don’t want to work anymore. This means taking action.

So one week I might ask you to run the numbers on how much you need to save for retirement.  Or I may have retirees find a scam seminar to attend.

To become or stay financial savvy, you have to work at it. I also want to hear how your home assignment went. What did you learn? Did the assignment make you change any of your plans? Did it save you money?

Send your comments to Put “Pre-retirement assignment” in the subject line. I’ll also be open to suggestions on what to assign folks.

Newsletter comments policy
Please note it is my personal policy to identify readers who respond to questions I ask in my newsletters. I find it encourages thoughtful and civil conversation. I want my newsletters to be a safe place to express your opinion. On sensitive matters or upon request, I’m happy to include just your first name and/or last initial. But I prefer not to post anonymous comments (I do make exceptions when I’m asking questions that might reveal sensitive information or cause conflict.)

Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.

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