Envisioning a gleeful retirement is easy if you’re a planner. Or if you at least work with a planner. Anyway, so try to think of the worst retirement possible. Okay, go ahead. Think of it. You got it? That’s it? That’s the worst??

Here’s what I picture: A dusty, sagging, spotted old man. His wife, gone. His kids, who knows. His home, bank-owned. His memories, fading. He sits buffooned in a splintery, peeling rocking chair in the corner of his shared room at the forgotten assisted living facility upstate. He closes his eyes with a heavy exhale, recalling faint images of family, as his dementia-suffering roommate commences his daily euphoric stammerings of sundowning and medication reuptake. The once family-man rocks back and forth, wondering about a million things. Wondering about his breakfast. Wondering about his grandchildren. Wondering about the foggy details of his lost retirement, and the sad but common circumstances that have led to his forgotten inhabitance.

How’d we do? Retirement planning begins long, long, long before we turn 65, or 66, or 67, or whatever absurd age the government squeezes us into when it comes our time. A heavy percentage of retirees rely purely on monthly Social Security, with little in the way of preplanned retirement savings. Isn’t Social Security running out? Franklin?

Which bring us to “compound interest”. Compound Interest is interest “calculated on the initial principal and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods of a deposit or loan” (investopedia). To the layman, it basically means interest on interest. So that sounds nice.

You could say that compound interest is basically reinvesting the interest. You’re earning on the initial sum’s interest, plus the interest already earned. Interesting interested interest.

Professional mathematicians tell us that $1 million isn’t enough to retire on anymore. If you do the math (or just look at their math), a cool mill will fetch you about $40,000 per year until you’re a centenarian. Centenarian, not centurion.