Personal Finance

How Much You Should Have in Your Retirement Fund at Every Age

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If you're counting on Social Security to fund your retirement, you might want to think again. In a recent interview with Politico, Sen. Marco Rubio said the GOP is considering major structural changes to Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit. With less help from the government, it's important to start saving now to protect yourself and your loved ones during your golden years.

There are numerous studies and theories about how much you should have saved for retirement, emergencies, necessities and other expenditures. For example, studies by Fidelity and T. Rowe Price show the retirement savings benchmarks for where you need to be, starting at age 30. Both studies stress the need to save early, maintain a significant level of contributions throughout life and maintain an age-appropriate allocation to equities throughout.

Don't wait for retirement to sneak up on you. Here are some expert tips for getting your retirement fund in order before you leave the working world behind and how to progressively grow your emergency fund.

How to Calculate Projected Expenses

When it comes to setting aside money for necessities, splurges and big expenditures, consider circumstances before age. Note that your circumstances are likely to change throughout the decades, however.

"To figure out how much you need, use an online budgeting resource such as Mint, break out your monthly bills and figure out an overall amount," said David Bakke, an author with the personal finance website Money Crashers. "If you're falling short, try using coupons for groceries, or go without cable TV, as there are plenty of alternatives."

As for other expenditures, it's important to budget and save for those, as well. "To me, splurges and big expenditures should be saved for on a case-by-case basis, and there's really no one amount that can be determined according to one's age," said Bakke. "In order to avoid falling into credit card debt, only put a splurge on a credit card if you can pay the bill off in full by the time it comes in."

Whether you're focused on saving for retirement, emergencies or splurges, it's helpful to have a framework so you can cover your financial bases.

Saving in Your 20s

In your 20s, the only way you can be behind in saving for retirement is by not contributing. The Fidelity study recommends setting aside 15 percent of your salary for retirement.

Also, contribute to your company's retirement plan if one is offered. As your salary increases, ramp up the percentage of your income that you are contributing to the plan. The benefits for savers in their 20s are huge. There is no bigger ally on the road to successfully saving for retirement than the gift of time and the benefits of compounding interest.

How to Save in Your 20s

When saving for an emergency fund in your 20s, you might be able to get away with saving a little less, since unexpected medical expenses and job losses might not be as catastrophic as they would be for someone older, said Bakke.

"So a good guide would be to start with, say, $5,000 when you're young. And as you age, keep setting more and more aside, as you really can never have enough saved for emergencies," he said. "To catch up, reduce your monthly expenses as much as possible, and devote the surplus to your emergency fund."

As you budget, continue to keep an eye on spending requirements for necessities. If you're falling short, find ways to adjust other expenditures and cut costs so that you can meet those needs. Also, have a plan in place to set some money aside for splurges — whether it's a general fund, or for something specific.

Saving in Your 30s

In your 30s, it's time to ramp up the percentage of your income that you are contributing to your company's 401k or similar retirement plan. You still have a long time to let your money compound and grow prior to your retirement.

If you feel that you are behind, get started saving for retirement in your 30s. Try to increase the percentage that you contribute to your 401k each year, and consider funding an IRA account as well. Here's what Fidelity and T. Rowe Price recommend you have saved for retirement in your 30s.

Age # times your salary to have saved Savings for someone earning $75,000
30 (Fidelity) 1 times $75,000
30 (T. Rowe Price) 0.5 times $37,500
35 (Fidelity) 2 times $150,000
35 (T. Rowe Price) 1 times $75,000

How to Save in Your 30s

For your emergency fund, financial advisor Joseph Carbone recommends having 12 months' salary saved. He offered the savings tips he usually gives to his 30-something clients, but his advice is sound for people of any age who are trying to build an emergency fund.

"One simple trick I often recommend: Instead of purchasing the brand-new car model in the showroom, look to purchase a pre-owned or demo model," he said. "You would be amazed at how much money you can save on your monthly payment, and start saving the difference."

If you're having trouble affording necessities, find ways to reduce those costs and make sure you're not overspending on unnecessary items.

Saving in Your 40s

In your 40s, you should be nearing your peak earning years — and striving to max out your contributions to your 401k. This is when college also creeps up on those of us with kids. If the choice is between saving for your retirement and saving for college, focus on the former. There are other ways to pay for college, including having your children pay a portion. There are no second chances on saving for retirement.

Age # times your salary to have saved Savings for someone earning $75,000
40 (Fidelity) 3 times $225,000
40 (T. Rowe Price) 2 times $150,000
45 (Fidelity) 4 times $300,000
45 (T. Rowe Price) 4 times $300,000

How to Save in Your 40s

Restock your emergency fund to keep it at three to 12 months of your salary. Periodically review your budget to ensure you're covering the necessities like utilities, housing and other costs. You can save money by eliminating non-essentials like landlines and cable from your monthly budget. Cutting the cord on cable can net you an extra $100 a month for your retirement fund.

Additionally, individuals in their 40s should boost their potential savings by focusing on investments. A recent Forbes article revealed that 40-year-olds who intend to retire within 25 years should have 87 percent of their money in stock funds, according to Vanguard target-date retirement funds.

Saving in Your 50s

Your 50s are your peak earning years, and you should still be striving to max out your contributions to your 401k or similar retirement plan. Ideally, you are doing other saving and investingfor retirement, too. If you have kids, you're probably also facing college costs in your 50s.

Take a serious look at your retirement plan in your 50s. If you find yourself behind, you might need to cut spending or plan on working a bit longer.

Age # times your salary to have saved Savings for someone earning $75,000
50 (Fidelity) 6 times $450,000
50 (T. Rowe Price) 6 times $450,000
55 (Fidelity) 7 times $525,000
55 (T. Rowe Price) 8 times $600,000

How to Save in Your 50s

This is also a time when you should continue to keep your emergency fund at three to 12 months of your salary. Periodically revisit your budget to ensure you're meeting the costs of necessary expenses, and not overspending and going into debt.

Additionally, individuals in their 50s often find themselves trapped in the sandwich role, giving money to both adult children and aging parents. In fact, 20 percent of American adults are providing financial support to their kids or parents. If you want to keep your retirement fund healthy, resist the urge to give to others before you take care of yourself and your spouse.

Saving in Your 60s

Even into your 60s, it's not too late to salvage your retirement if you are behind. Saving in your 60s might entail working a bit longer or even part-time into your retirement.

This is not the time to cut back on your contributions to your retirement plans, either. It's also important to carefully time when you claim Social Security.

Age # times your salary to have saved Savings for someone earning $75,000
60 (Fidelity) 8 times $600,000
60 (T. Rowe Price) 10 times $750,000
67 (Fidelity) 10 times $750,000
65 (T. Rowe Price) 12 times $900,000

How to Save in Your 60s

You should continue to set money aside for emergencies, ensure that you're still meeting your necessary costs and earmark funds for splurges, based on your circumstances.

If your retirement savings have stagnated, consider delaying retirement by a few years or picking up a side gig you can work after leaving the 9 to 5. Teaching, crafting and leading tour groups in your city are just a few of the many jobs that can keep you active — and earning — in retirement.

This article was originally published on


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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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