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A comfortable retirement? Be a '10-Timer'

June 3, 2011 | 12:54 pm

Want enough money to carry you through your golden years? Then save at least 10 times your annual salary by retirement.

That's the allegedly "simple" goal that a new study exhorts Americans to pursue.

"Too few Americans are saving sufficiently to provide for themselves in old age," says the study by Lincoln Financial Group. "What is needed is a simple way to encourage and empower individuals to save."

There is a hitch: Only 11% of the retirees surveyed succeeded in becoming so-called 10-Timers.

Nevertheless, says the study, the rest of us can learn something from those fortunate enough to hit the mark.

To calculate where you stand, tally your total savings -– checking accounts, mutual funds, 401(k)s, etc. -– minus all non-mortgage debt. (Real estate is excluded in this equation.) Then, divide your net savings by your annual income.

(The figures all are pre-tax. So use your gross income and the current amount in tax-deferred retirement accounts.)

It's worth noting that there's nothing scientific about saving 10 times your income. It's just an easy-to-understand figure and 10-Timers report being successfully retired, according to a Lincoln Financial spokeswoman.

10-Timers share a few obvious savings traits, including contributing to workplace retirement plans and following clear investment strategies, such as relying on index funds.

Most interesting, almost three-quarters made the most of "power-savings years" when they had extra money o salt away. And it's especially helpful to do that early in your career, according to the study.

While power-saving between ages 40 and 50 was twice as common among 10-Timers, it was three times as common from 30 to 40.

"Steadily saving a modest amount each year is important, but is probably not enough by itself" to achieve 10-Timer status, according to the study.

That's dispiriting for anyone hoping that slow and steady will win the race. But at least after running these numbers you'll have an idea of how far behind you are.

–- Walter Hamilton

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