If you've been consistently saving for retirement for years (or even decades), you may start to wonder whether it's possible to over-invest in your future.
The answer: It really depends on your financial circumstances. While many money experts will tell you that you can't have too much in retirement savings, others will say it comes down to the amount of financial security you think you'll need later in life.
"How much to save (and whether to save) for retirement is entirely based on the goals and priorities of the individual," Samantha Gorelick, a certified financial planner at Brunch & Budget, tells CNBC Make It.
In the U.S., where 22% of Americans have less than $5,000 saved for the future — and the ideal amount to have put away by retirement is at least $1 million — it's not often that individuals find themselves putting away too much toward retirement, says Douglas Boneparth, president and founder of Bone Fide Wealth.
However, if this question has crossed your mind, four financial experts offer advice on how much you should aim to save and when you might want to spend a little more on your current needs.
If you aren't sure where you're headed with your retirement plan, Boneparth recommends taking the time to do a formal retirement planning session.
This process can be done alone, with your partner or with a financial advisor, such as a certified financial planner or a retirement income certified professional. It can help you to determine whether you're "overfunding" your retirement, Boneparth explains.
During this exercise, you'd want to consider the following:
- How much you can contribute each month toward your future
- How much you want to have put away by the time you retire
- When you'd ideally want to retire and whether your timeline toward getting there is feasible
When working with an advisor, they can usually help you "understand how much you need to save to afford a certain lifestyle over a particular span of time, taking into account a number of assumptions like rates of return, inflation, social security and more," Boneparth says.
Tim Clairmont, a certified financial planner and author of "What Should I Do With My 401(k)?" says he prefers to teach balance to his clients. He encourages them to weigh their investments to allow for "happiness now and later."
If sky-high retirement investments have you feeling like you're missing out on current life happenings, you may be contributing too much. If you suspect that's the case, try revisiting your retirement plan (or seek help from a financial advisor) to restructure your savings strategy.
Additionally, since people today are working for longer than they used to, it's not always realistic to neglect your current needs, especially since it could be decades until you're able (or want) to retire.
"More often than not it makes sense to put more resources into your shorter-term goals — but there is no steadfast rule on the matter, everyone's situation and needs are different," says Gorelick.
While you should think about what will make you feel happy and satisfied now, you should also take into account the potential for unexpected expenses in retirement.
Surprise medical bills are a big area of concern that can "very easily derail a retirement plan if you don't have a plan in place," says Ryan Marshall, a New Jersey-based certified financial planner.
If an unexpected expense were to arise, such as a medical emergency, you will be glad you invested more into your retirement accounts.
On the other hand, Marshall says he sometimes has clients who originally planned to move when they retired, only to decide against it in the end — which means they actually needed less money than they'd thought.
"Most clients actual version of retirement is much different than how they pictured it," Marshall says. "For some, they are going to continue to live in New Jersey because now they have grandkids, and before that, they had it in their mind they were moving south," Marshall says.
So, you should save for what you think you'll need, while understanding that that could change dramatically by the time you're actually out of the workforce.
When it comes to money, you don't want to leave your future up to chance. Having more than you need for retirement can help you "to sleep at night," says Marshall.
Another benefit of investing a lot of money in your retirement accounts is that you can then "be more charitable and help others," says Lane Martinsen, author of "The Holistic Retirement Planning Revolution" and principal of Martinsen Wealth Management.
Marshall seconds this, and says he's seen some of his clients "who saved more than they ever thought" become more philanthropic and "really enjoy the benefits of donating to a cause they believe in."
Of those clients, he adds: "They can see their donation at work while they are still alive and that is really important to them. Some never planned to do this, but as their assets have grown they are able to donate."
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