A million dollars has long been the retirement portfolio gold standard, and why not? That's a rich sum. But let's get the bad news out of the way quickly. If you earn six figures and have no intention of living on an austerity budget when you stop working, you may need far more than $1 million to support yourself for the rest of your life.
The reason $1 million isn't all it was once cracked up to be: As a rule of thumb, you should plan to withdraw no more than 4% of your portfolio in your first year of retirement - otherwise you risk running out of money too soon.
You can nudge up your withdrawals slightly each year for inflation. So if you want an annual income of $80,000 - the retirement inflow needed to maintain the lifestyle of a worker earning $100,000 - and you and your spouse will collect $20,000 or so a year in Social Security benefits, $60,000 will have to come from your own savings. At a 4% withdrawal rate, that works out to a nest egg of roughly $1.5 million.
Of course, that's just a ballpark figure. With a pension or part-time work or more modest expectations, you can get by with much less than seven figures. The only number that really counts is the number you personally need to save based on your goals and resources. So start figuring. Use the savings calculator to the right to find out whether you're on track.
Update these calculations every few years or whenever you have a major lifestyle upgrade. As you draw closer to the finish line, this exercise will give you an increasingly accurate picture of your target, million dollars or not.