Retirement in America on $5 MM

WSJ has a series of articles on what retirement looks like for people with various levels of savings. Today’s article is on $5 MM in retirement savings. Of course, at this level, they may have an additional $10MM to $15 MM in taxable accounts, rental real estate, business ownership, etc.

I liked the retired surgeon who got $300,000 for 36 days of part-time work at his old clinic.

As always, the comments to the article are the best. {{ LOL }}


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I’m not seeing any comments at the bottom.

You’ve got to go all the way down to the bottom of the page past the ads. There’s a blue strip that says “Open Conversation (944)”. (i.e., 944 comments to the article) Or maybe you need to be a subscriber to see the comments? I don’t know.


That’s it. Have to be a subscriber. I clicked on “WSJ Membership Benefits” and all it did was take me to a page that said: “Sign in or subscribe to read”

From reading the article, it seems to suggest that the $5 MM is total retirement savings, taxable and tax deferred, not just in retirement accounts.

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Yes, there is a pay wall. Can not read article.

{{ Below is the fine print underneath the graph, the $5 millions are the money in the retirement accounts, not the total assets excluding primary residence:

“Note: Family retirement savings that are in tax preferred accounts such as defined contribution plans, IRAs, and Keoghs.

Source: EBRI estimates of the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances” }}


With the TMF 4% guideline, $5MM implies $200k living expenses. That is probably the minimum to consider retirement in a big city like New York, San Francisco, or Miami.

Many can do well on less but for those want the big city lifestyle, its a reasonable goal.



Weird then that they profiled people that do not meet that standard. To quote from the article:

The couple now has $4.2 million, half in retirement accounts and half in taxable accounts.

Now maybe they used to have $5 million in retirement accounts, but that would be exceptionally odd for this otherwise thrifty couple to have blown through $2+ million in retirement savings before they were even eligible to take normal distributions (the wife just turned 60).

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I didn’t see where it said anything about 36 days!

{{{ At a conference in 2017, he met the only surgeon at a rural hospital in Los Alamos, N.M. Hwu now travels to Los Alamos to relieve the surgeon for a few days most months. There, he enjoys hiking and seeing his son, an accountant in Albuquerque. )))

I took that as 3 days x 12 months = 36 days.