Retirement anxiety: do you really need $1.46m to have a happy old age?

Name: Retirement anxiety.

Age: Getting closer and closer.

Appearance: A constant, thumping panic attack.

Oi, speak for yourself! I can’t wait to retire. Oh, really? And how do you plan to fund this retirement?

State pension, obviously. Is that so? You’ll be able to maintain your lifestyle on £221 a week?

Well, not by itself. But I have a private pension, too. OK, and how much have you paid into it recently?

Actually, I haven’t … Oh God, I haven’t planned for my retirement at all! And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen, a textbook case of retirement anxiety.

It’s OK – I can start saving now. How much do I need, realistically? Well, according to a new survey, the average American believes they need $1.46m (£1.16m) to retire comfortably.

I’m sorry, one point four six what now? Million. I know, it’s a lot. But you have to remember, this is the US we’re talking about. It’s a completely different matter in the UK.

Oh, thank God. Yes, don’t worry. In February, the Guardian revealed that a comfortable retirement now costs £43,100 a year.

That’s much less than $1.46m. Yes. Although remember I said “a year”. Anyway, none of this is set in stone. There are at least two other options available to people who haven’t adequately prepared for retirement.

Great – what are they? Well, the first is simple. It just means that you remain in employment for ever, spending your entire life slogging away for a faceless corporation that doesn’t care about you.

Not ideal. What’s the other one? That involves moving in with your grownup children, all of you gradually growing more resentful, as the long days and months stretch out ahead.

Sounds great. I’m in! Or, you know, you could get your act together now and start putting away a sensible amount of money whenever you can, so that you can at least feed yourself in your later years.

No thanks. I’d rather be a burden on the children. Fair enough. Who can afford to save for a pension anyway? People can barely afford Lurpak.

Do say: “I haven’t been saving enough money for my retirement.”

Don’t say: “Luckily, we have a nice government that cares about elderly people.”

The Guardian