Knowing how much you need to save for retirement can be difficult to determine. There are many expenses to factor in and knowing exactly what you want to do in retirement can make it hard to determine how much to save.

Recently, I heard some figures that made me stop and think.  At a bank meeting, one of our financial advisors told us about the ‘Rule of 219.’  This rule involves determining the cost of eating for two people during retirement.  Let’s say two people eat three meals a day during retirement and each meal costs $5.  You then take that times 365 days a year, then multiply that by 20 years of retirement.  Here’s the math:


2 people x 3 meals per day x $5 per meal x 365 days x 20 years = $219,000


In this situation, it will cost two people $219,000 to eat during retirement. This doesn’t even factor in dessert! Throw in other costs, such as bills, transportation, travel, etc… and the number grows even greater. One could argue that it will not cost $5 per meal, so you would then make the necessary adjustments to your own formula as you feel it is necessary. Even at $3 a meal, two people’s cost of eating would be $131,400!  Also, note that this is estimating for only 20 years of retirement.  With life expectancy constantly increasing, it’s easy to raise that number by another 10-15 years.

So, what can you do now that will help you make sure you have saved enough for your meals and other expenses in retirement?

First, if your employer has an employee sponsored 401(k) plan available to you, make sure you contribute to it. And if they have a match, make sure you contribute at least the maximum amount that is matched. If you’re unsure whether they have one or not, ask! And if they do and you haven’t started contributing, make sure to tell them you want to.

A note, if you can contribute more than the employer match without having an effect on your current value of living, it is best to do so. The more you can put aside for later, the better.

Next, make sure you know all the sources of retirement income. This includes a 401(k), Social Security, your personal savings and any investments you have. You may have other sources, such as an inheritance as well. There are many sources for retirement savings and some of them you may not have thought about. Visit with a financial advisor to make sure you have all the information you need to make smart savings choices.

The last piece of advice we will give to you is to sit down with a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you reach your long-term financial goals. They can assist you in making sure you get to spend your golden years eating steak instead of reverting back to the college days of ramen noodles. After all, retirement is for relaxation, not stressing over your finances.

To learn more about how you can cover your retirement meals or plan for your other future needs check out our investment plan options or locate a local CNB financial advisor at

Rule of 219
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