It can be tough to work on your retirement planning when you have no idea how much money you need to save. This makes it extremely difficult to set monetary goals and to work on achieving them. While your financial adviser can help you, there are some simple things you can do on your own to make the process less arduous. Note that there is no set number you will need to have to retire. It depends a lot on personal preferences. Obviously, you'll want to always err on the side of having more instead of having too little.

What is a comfortable retirement?

First, decide what you would consider living comfortably in retirement. For example, do you need to have a small apartment or a large house? Do you plan on traveling extensively or staying close to home? If you're happy with your current income, a good ballpark figure is to plan to receive 80 percent of your regular salary from investments and other sources. Factor in more if you plan to purchase your own health insurance instead of just going with a government funded program.

Second, consider how much income you will already have coming in from outside sources after you retire. This will include both Social Security and a pension if you are eligible for one. Your yearly Social Security statement should give you an idea of what your benefits will be, and you should receive your pension information from your current or previous employer from where your pension will be coming. Other sources of income that normally fall outside of traditional retirement planning include rent from properties you own or money for the sale of a business, for example.

Evaluate expenses

Third, look at your current expenses. The easiest way to do this is to keep all of your bills and receipts for a month and then multiply that amount by 12. Do not consider items that are one-time expenses, such as financing a wedding. Decide if you will have all of those expenses when you retire. You can eliminate such things as payroll tax and retirement savings. You'll also want to add a cushion for unexpected expenses that will undoubtedly come. However, you also need to factor in for inflation. Expect the price of most everything to go up over time.

Using financial calculators

If this seems overwhelming, you can simply plug your estimated numbers into a retirement calculator. There are dozens of retirement calculators available online, including several great ones at It should give you a decent estimate as to what you'll need, as long as you've already decided what you'll need to live comfortably. Most importantly, speak with your financial adviser who can get you started right away on evaluating your retirement needs and goals and getting you on the path to reaching them.

Paul Anderson is an investment adviser and partner at Moneywise Wealth Management. He is also a host of the Moneywise Guys radio program on KERN 1180 weekdays 10 a.m. to noon. His email is and website is Advisory Services offered through: SCF Investment Advisors, Inc. Corporate Office: 155 E. Shaw Ave. #102 Fresno, CA. 93710 800-955-2517. These are Anderson's opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian or SCF.