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The $5 Million Question: Is It Enough to Retire at 30?

Adam Koprucki Updated: February 19, 2024 • 5 min read
jar with retirement money inside

Key Points:

  • While $5 million might be enough for some, others might need more for their desired lifestyle or while planning for future expenses and personal finances.

  • It’s not just about the allure of financial freedom; it's about understanding the practicalities of being retired early.

  • Let’s explore factors to consider so you can understand if $5 million is enough to retire at just 30 years old. 

 Retiring at a young age is a dream for many, but the big question is: is $5 million enough to retire, especially as early as 30?

It’s not just about the allure of financial freedom; it's about understanding the practicalities of being retired early. Let’s explore factors to consider so you can understand if $5 million is enough to retire at just 30 years old. 

Can You Live Off 5 Million Dollars?

Retirement planning is a complex topic. When pondering if you can retire on 5 million dollars, it's crucial to consider factors such as your lifestyle, expected lifespan, investment strategy, inflation rates, and even long-term health-care costs and longevity risk.

While $5 million might be enough for some, others might need more for their desired lifestyle or while planning for future expenses and personal finances.

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Lifestyle Considerations

Your lifestyle and cost of living is one of the most significant factors in determining if $5 million is enough for retirement.

A lavish lifestyle would require more money (an expensive house, clothes, vacations), while a more modest lifestyle could make $5 million more than enough.

For example, many housing experts recommend spending at most 30% of your income on housing. So, if your $5 million portfolio provides 5% a year income, you should spend no more than $75,000 per year on housing costs. 

While $75,000 may seem like a lot of money to spend on housing, this budget may not take you as far in large coastal cities like New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. But, it may take you much farther in a state like Ohio. 

Family and Dependents

Another factor to consider when trying to understand if you can retire with $5 million is the cost of having a family and dependents. 

For children, this includes their education, healthcare, and other needs, where setting up college funds like 529 plans can be beneficial. If you have a non-working spouse, it's essential to factor in their financial needs too.

Each aspect plays a significant role in ensuring a stable and secure financial future for your family as you enter retirement.

Longevity Risk

Longevity Risk is the possibility that your retirement savings will be exhausted before the end of your life.

Advances in healthcare and living standards have led to longer life expectancies, which means retirees may need to plan for 20-30 years or more in retirement. 

To combat longevity risk, you may need to retire at 40, and a portion of your portfolio may need to remain invested in growth-oriented assets, like stocks, even during retirement. 

Long-Term Care

Long-term care costs can be substantial. 

Adequate insurance and savings are important to cover these potential expenses. That said, dedicated long-term care is expensive. Depending on the level of care required, Long-Term Care, can run between $3,000 - $5,000 per month.

These expenses could significantly eat into any income earned from a $5 million retirement portfolio. Additionally, you do not typically incur long-term care costs until your later years, so it’s easy to overlook this expense when considering retiring at age 30.

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Investing Considerations

Investing wisely is key.

The performance of your investments can significantly influence if you can comfortably retire at 30 with $5 million. 

Diversifying your investment portfolio, understanding risk and return, understanding the effect of inflation, and withdrawal strategies can help make $5 million last for decades.

Here’s what you need to consider.

Investment Allocation

An investment allocation is how you distribute money across different investments like the stock market, ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds, to name a few.

There are 3 primary investment allocation approaches: Conservative, Aggressive, and Mixed. 

  • Conservative Approach: Lower-risk investments like bonds or fixed-income funds offer more stability but potentially lower returns. A conservative approach might be suitable if preserving capital is your main goal. 
  • Aggressive Approach: Higher-risk investments like stocks, ETFs, and Mutual Funds have the the potential for higher returns, which can be beneficial if your goal is to grow your $5 million. It’s worth noting that, on average, the S&P 500 has returned around 10% annually, between 2000 and 2023.

However, higher returns often come with more risk. During those 20 years, there were 3 years when the S&P 500 lost in total approximately, 58%.

  • Mixed Approach: The 60/40 approach is a classic yet effective asset allocation model comprised of 60% stocks and 40% bonds. 60% of stocks is invested in equities, which offer growth potential.

The aim is to achieve capital appreciation and, in some cases, dividend income. The rest is invested in bonds (40%), which are typically less volatile than stocks. Bonds provide regular interest income and can provide stability during market volatility.

The Role of Inflation

When considering if $5 million is enough to retire, it's important to factor in how inflation could impact the purchasing power of your retirement accounts.

Inflation is the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services rises, subsequently eroding the purchasing power of money. This means the same amount of money will buy fewer goods and services over time. Over the long term, the U.S. Federal Reserve targets an inflation rate of 2%, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will always meet its targets.

For example, if inflation averages 3% per year, the purchasing power of $1 million will be almost halved in 24 years. This means what costs $1 million now will cost nearly $2 million in 24 years.

Withdrawal Strategies

Your withdrawal strategy is another important factor in considering whether or not $5 million is enough to retire. A sustainable withdrawal strategy is crucial. Withdrawing too much, too soon, can deplete your funds faster than expected.

The 4% rule is a popular strategy. It involves withdrawing 4% of your retirement savings in the first year of retirement then adjusting that amount for inflation in subsequent years. This strategy is designed to make your savings last for a 30-year retirement period. However, if you plan to retire at 30, you may run out of money at just 60. 

And while the 4% rule is easy to implement and follow, it does not account for market volatility or changes in personal circumstances.

The Bottom Line

Retiring on $5 million is an achievable goal for many. But it requires careful planning, wise investing, and realistic expectations about your lifestyle and future costs.

Whether $5 million is enough to retire at 30 or a later age, like 40, the key is to plan and adapt as your circumstances change and start saving as soon as possible.



Is $5 Million Enough to Retire?

It depends on your lifestyle, investment strategy, and the risk of you outliving your retirement funds. There is no “right” answer, instead, it depends on your individual circumstances.

Can I still work after retiring early?

Yes, you can still work after retiring early, and many people choose to do so for various reasons. Early retirement, especially in the context of the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement, often means leaving a traditional career or full-time job, but it doesn't necessarily mean stopping work altogether.

What if I run out of money?

Running out of money is a significant concern for many, especially those considering early retirement. Planning carefully to avoid this scenario is crucial, but it's also important to have strategies in place should you find your retirement savings dwindling faster than anticipated.

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Adam Koprucki is a dedicated investor and writer with a deep interest in macroeconomics and options trading. His professional experience includes spending over a decade working at some of the largest investment banks, investment managers, and consulting firms, including: J.P. Morgan, Société Générale, Deloitte Consulting, and The Vanguard Group. His experience includes working with complex financial products such as exotic interest rate derivatives, structured products, and structured credit, and his investing research has been published in Seeking Alpha. He has a bachelor's degree, majoring in Finance, from Loyola University, and a Certificate in Capital Markets from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.