7 On Your Side: 6 numbers you should know for prosperity

April 8, 2013 7:38:03 PM PDT
Some may dream of hitting the Powerball and being set financially for life, but there's a wiser way to secure your future with better odds. I have the six numbers you need to know to set yourself up for life. Getting these numbers right could give you the peace of mind

The Powerball lets us all dream big at an affordable price.

"I could spare the $2, I think. Not every day, but I could spare it," said Alexandra Myers, a UC Berkeley senior.

Affordable... yes. Good odds... no. Financial adviser David Hollinger adds a cold dose of reality to any Powerball fantasy.

"You have [odds of] one in 175 million, so it's amazing if you're going to potentially win," said Hollinger.

In fact, Hollinger tells us you have a better shot of being hit by lightning during your lifetime. Those odds are 1 in 10,000. Here are the six numbers Hollinger says you need to know to secure your future.

The first number is 28, for the 28 percent of retirees today who admit they don't have enough money to retire comfortably. Hollinger says it's not too early to start when you hit age 20.

"I've thought a lot about it. I thought about it since I was 16 basically," said Myers.

Financial responsibility is something her parents taught her at an early age. The second number is 15. 15 percent is how much you should save annually to be prepared for retirement.

"If you can't do that, start with something and build up to that. That's a good percentage to start with," said Hollinger.

3 represents the annual rate of inflation. Any retirement plan should keep in mind that inflation will eat into your money. $250,000 is how much the average retired couple will need today to pay for health care the rest of their lives. And that doesn't include long term care.

"Things like Medicare, your Medigap insurance, your prescription drug Part D that's not going to be covered by your existing plan so you need to pay for that out of your pocket," said Hollinger.

760 -- that's the credit score you should aim for. A good credit score means better terms on loans you take out. Alexandra recently bought a brand new car and got a five-year loan at 5 percent. Still she's aware that she needs to watch her expenses.

"I'm definitely going to have to sit down and look at the different expenses I'm going to have next year and see which ones I need to prioritize," said Myers.

"The most important number is 1, which is you," said Hollinger. "Because I'm really all about financial health and physical wealth."

Myers has accepted a nice job offer at a consulting firm when she graduates in May. She's rewarding herself for all the money she's saved over the years with a trip to Europe after graduation.


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