What is a good monthly retirement income?

Terry Selb

August 23, 2023

What is a good monthly retirement income?

Retirement is a significant milestone that marks the culmination of a lifetime of hard work and dedication. As individuals approach this phase of life, a critical question arises: what constitutes a good monthly retirement income? While the answer may vary depending on individual circumstances and goals, the essence remains: a retirement income that provides financial security, maintains a comfortable lifestyle, and safeguards against unexpected expenses. In this article, we’ll explore the factors contributing to a good monthly retirement income and offer insights into how one can plan for a financially sound retirement.

Defining a Good Monthly Retirement Income

A good monthly retirement income allows retirees to sustain their desired lifestyle without compromising their well-being. It encompasses more than just basic needs; it encompasses leisure activities, healthcare costs, travel aspirations, and unforeseen emergencies. Unlike the working years, when a steady paycheck arrives regularly, retirees rely on savings, investments, pensions, and Social Security benefits to fund their livelihood.

Factors Influencing Retirement Income Needs

Several factors contribute to determining an adequate pension:

  1. Lifestyle Choices: Your desired lifestyle in retirement plays a crucial role in shaping your income needs. Do you envision traveling frequently, engaging in hobbies, dining out often, or downsizing to a simpler life? Each choice carries financial implications.

  2. Healthcare Costs: Healthcare expenses tend to rise as we age. Adequate health insurance coverage and provisions for potential medical emergencies must be factored into retirement income planning.

  3. Inflation: Over time, the cost of living increases due to inflation. What seems like a comfortable income today might not cover the same expenses a decade later.

  4. Longevity: The longer you live, the more income you’ll require. With advancements in healthcare, people are living longer, necessitating careful consideration of how many years your retirement income should sustain you.

  5. Debts and Obligations: Ideally, entering retirement without significant deficits is advantageous. If you still have mortgage payments, loans, or other financial obligations, they should be accounted for in your retirement income plan.

  6. Geographical Location: The cost of living varies significantly from one location to another. Consider whether you plan to retire in a high-cost urban area, a more affordable rural setting, or even abroad.


While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how much a good monthly pension is, experts suggest a few guidelines to consider:

  1. Rule of Thumb: One standard guideline is the “rule of 25. Multiply your desired annual pension by 25 to estimate the nest egg you’ll need when you retire. For instance, if you aim for a yearly income of $60,000, you’d need a retirement savings of $1.5 million.

  2. 70-80% Replacement: Another guideline suggests aiming for a retirement income that’s 70-80% of your pre-retirement income. This approach takes into account that some work-related expenses (commuting, professional attire) may decrease while other costs (healthcare, leisure) may rise.

  3. Budget-Based Approach: Creating a detailed retirement budget that outlines expected expenses can provide a clearer picture of your income needs. Be sure to include all possible costs, from essential bills to discretionary spending.

Strategies for Achieving a Good Retirement Income

  1. Start Early: The earlier you begin retirement savings, the more time your investments have to grow. Even small, consistent contributions can make a significant difference over several decades.

  2. Maximize Retirement Accounts: Contribute the maximum allowable amount to retirement accounts like 401(k)s or IRAs. These accounts offer tax advantages and can accelerate your savings growth.

  3. Diversify Investments: A diversified investment portfolio can help mitigate risk and enhance potential returns. Consult a financial advisor to design a strategy aligned with your risk tolerance and goals.

  4. Delay Social Security: You can increase your Social Security benefits by delaying your claim beyond the full retirement age. This can be a powerful strategy to enhance your retirement income.

  5. Consider Part-Time Work: Many retirees find fulfillment and extra income through part-time or freelance work. This can supplement your retirement income while keeping you engaged.

  6. Downsizing and Lifestyle Adjustments: If your current living situation is expensive, consider downsizing or relocating to a more affordable area. Adjusting certain spending habits can also stretch your pension.

A good monthly retirement income aligns with your individual preferences and needs. It should provide financial security, accommodate your desired lifestyle, and be flexible enough to handle unforeseen circumstances. Careful planning, disciplined saving, and a well-thought-out investment strategy are essential to achieving a comfortable pension. By understanding your financial goals and taking proactive steps, you can embark on your retirement journey with confidence and peace of mind. Remember, it’s never too early to start planning for a secure and fulfilling retirement.