Here’s What Retiring with $500,000 Looks Like

$500K is more than most have for retirement, but is it enough to live comfortably?
Updated May 8, 2024
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Half a million dollars might sound like a lot of money, but considering your retirement could last 30 or more years, it might not go as far as you think. 

If you don‘t have any other income for a 30-year retirement, $500K in savings means you’d have about $20,000 for each year.

If you discover $500,000 isn’t enough to retire comfortably, you may need to earn extra money now — and in retirement — to help you live the lifestyle you want.

If you discover it is enough, here‘s what you can expect.

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Following the 4% rule

Yurii Kibalnik/Adobe four percent rule written with white marker

Using the 4% rule can help you better plan your retirement expenses. 

Most financial experts advise you to withdraw only 4% of your total assets in your first year. You should then take 4% in the following years but adjust for inflation.

Following this rule should make your retirement savings last 30 years. If you have $500,000 in assets, this would mean living on $20,000 for your first year, plus any Social Security you receive.

Living by a budget

Nina Lawrenson/ senior couple reviewing bills at home

You’ll need to create a budget to determine how much you can spend each year. Calculate your necessities, like your mortgage, utilities, and groceries. Once you’ve done that, you can determine what’s left of your $20,000.

If you find necessities eat up too much of your budget, you can try to cut costs. For example, you can try to save money on groceries or shop for cheaper car insurance.

Don’t forget to factor in other things like gas and home maintenance. See if there’s enough left for entertainment, travel, and other activities you’d like to pursue.

Collecting social security

gunnar3000/Adobe social security benefits form with glasses and pen

According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly retirement benefit was $1,781.63 for February 2023. But not everyone receives the same amount.

Knowing your monthly benefit helps you better understand what retiring with $500,000 will look like for you. This amount is based on your pre-retirement earnings and can change over time with cost-of-living increases.

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Investing in lower risk stocks

Pormezz/Adobe businesswoman using pen to finance budget

Consider how much you earn each year on your investments. This amount could give you extra money to live comfortably if you plan for your $500,000 to cover basic cost-of-living needs.

Some investments carry more risk than others. And what you earn now could change over time. It’s wise to rebalance your portfolio often to minimize your overall risk.

Potentially receiving smaller payments

Syda Productions/Adobe senior woman thinking

Retiring early gives you less time to save and take advantage of employer match 401(k) programs. However, it also results in smaller Social Security payments and requires you to make your money last longer.

Making $500,000 last even five extra years can require extreme changes to your post-retirement budget. You might have to sacrifice certain expenses to cover that additional time.

On the other hand, retiring later means spreading that $500,000 over a shorter period.

Growing interested in more affordable locales

Kay Abrahams/ senior couple walking with dog in park

Where you decide to retire can drastically impact your cost of living. To stretch your dollar the furthest, consider states with lower housing, food, and utility costs. Consider area tax rates, as well.

But don’t neglect to take other important factors into account. Access to quality health care, proximity to loved ones, and quality of life are just as essential to a comfortable retirement.

Considering downsizing

Andy Dean/Adobe senior couple sitting at front house after retirement

You might not need as much space during retirement. Consider downsizing your home to save money every month on utility bills. You’ll likely also save on maintenance and repair costs over the course of your retirement.

A smaller lawn and house also means less work for you. You can spend more of your time doing things you enjoy and less time cleaning.

Supplementing your income

Drazen/Adobe senior florists working with potted flowers in house

It’s much easier to comfortably retire with $500,000 when you know you still have a regular income.

Whether you started a new business or picked up a side hustle or part-time job, that additional cash will supplement your income and give you more wiggle room in your monthly budget.

Tackling medical expenses

adragan/Adobe stethoscope and credit card on stack of cash on bluebackground

If you plan to retire early, you won’t have access to Medicare until age 65. Even after you’ve enrolled in Medicare, the insurance doesn’t cover all costs, such as dental, hearing aids, and some long-term care needs.

Medical bills could consume a large chunk of your retirement income, making it difficult to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for 30 years. 

The cost of a Medigap or supplemental insurance policy to cover uncovered medical expenses should be part of your retirement budget.

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Accounting for inflation

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Remember that today’s dollar likely won’t go as far when you’re living in retirement. Living on $500,000 in 10, 20, or 30 years may look a lot different than it does now. You can use an inflation calculator to see how prices have changed over the years.

This is another reason to make your money work for you rather than just saving it. Making sound investments can help you combat the effects of inflation.

Supporting family members

Robert Kneschke/Adobe senior couple with female finance advisor signing attorney

If you’re single, $500,000 will last much longer than if you have a spouse or dependents to support. Consider whether you will help adult children financially and what you’d like to leave for them when you’re gone.

Avoiding new debt

Andy Dean/Adobe female finance advisor giving scissor to a senior lady

Retiring with as little debt as possible will help your $500,000 last longer. You should try not to have credit card debt when you decide to leave the workforce.

Taking out a new car or personal loan close to retirement may add debt to your retirement budget. If you still have a mortgage, you must also factor in your payments. You might decide to pay off your mortgage if it makes sense for you.

Talking with a financial advisor

fizkes/Adobe male broker showing home to senior couple on laptop

A financial advisor can help you determine where to invest your money to help you retire with more and make what you have last longer. 

Working with a professional can make all the difference if you’re serious about growing your nest egg and living a long and comfortable retirement.

Bottom line

Halfpoint/Adobe senior couple stressing about budget

You might not think you can retire early after considering how you’ll live on $500,000 in savings. But you can take steps now to grow that $500,000 into a larger nest egg.

Cutting unnecessary expenses, working with a financial advisor, and increasing your earnings can help you retire when you want rather than when you need to.

Once you’ve factored in your Social Security benefits and any assets or income, you can make better decisions about your retirement.

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Author Details

Katelyn Washington Katelyn Washington is a writer with a passion for finance and business. She put herself through business school as a single mother of three and has had pieces commissioned by national magazines. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and editing manuscripts for indie authors.

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