In my experience clients most satisfied with their retirement income were those that "did the numbers" themselves. They created the income level they enjoyed in retirement by working the numbers backward to determine how much to save and invest.
After estimating their Social Security and pension benefits, they decided they wanted $40,000 a year from investments. They knew that inflation will reduce their retirement dollar to fifty cents over time. That meant that they needed a nest egg of over $1 million in order to take $80,000 in future dollars ($40,000 current).
Since retirement plans (pensions and IRAs) allow money to compound WITHOUT taxes now, they used them at work and on their own. Younger clients have used Roth IRAs since it allows them to completely avoid income taxes on that money in time.
I showed these clients how to use a calculator to find the http://www.moneychimp.com/calculator/compound_interest_calculator.htm amount they needed to invest each year to reach their goal. You can reach $1 million in about 33 years by investing in a low-cost stock market index mutual fund inside a tax-FREE account. If you use a "managed" advisor/broker account, you lose.
The average managed-investment account returns were 3.69% over the last 30 years according to Dalbar QAIB study. During the same period your returns could have been over 11% if you had chosen a low-cost stock-market-index mutual fund-your $250 monthly deposits would be worth only $200,00 instead of $1,000,000.
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