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Do people in their 30’s need to plan for retirement?

Ask the Coach

Q: I’m in my thirties and people are asking me what I’m doing to plan for retirement. I think I’m too young! Am I? Is there something I should be doing?

A: You are never too young to plan for retirement. Honestly, if you’re just starting to think about it, the bad news is that you’re a little late! The average American in the 56-61 age bracket has only approximately $163,577 in savings—enough to last them maybe five years1. But the good news is that if you start now, even small increments of savings can add up by your retirement years.

Ideally, it’s best to begin thinking about retirement when you’re a young adult. You can then begin to set aside funds for retirement and compound interest becomes your friend. Below are a few life benchmarks that can useful for you2:

  • In your twenties, even if you have a small salary at your first job but manage to save something for retirement, you might qualify for the saver’s credit. Individuals whose adjusted gross income is $30,750 or less can claim a tax credit worth between 10 and 50 percent of the amount contributed to a retirement account up to $2,000. The saver’s credit can be claimed in addition to the tax deduction for saving in a 401(k) or IRA.3
  • In your thirties, even putting $50 a month into a retirement savings account will create the habit of saving. But your aim should be to put five to six percent of your pretax income toward retirement and another five to six percent into short-term savings. Try to increase those percentages until the accounts (combined) are getting at least 15 percent of your earnings.
  • In your forties, work toward reaching the $1 million mark. One avenue to reach this is to max out your 401(k). Now is also a good time to think about downsizing your home, now that your kids are (hopefully!) living on their own.
  • In your fifties, this is when you might want to begin thinking about a phased retirement. Some people are able to begin working part-time while starting a business they would like to work in during their retirement. This is also a good time to work toward paying off your mortgage, if you haven’t already done so. (Also, income-producing, paid off real estate is a good investment.) Go to https://www.mortgagecalculator.org/ and calculate your savings if you were to pay additional principal each month.
  • In your sixties, many financial advisors state that you will need 65 – 70 percent of your current income in your retirement years. To accomplish that, they recommend having 10 times your annual income in retirement savings by age 67.4

Hopefully, these few tips will give you some mental fodder as to the best plan for your retirement. Remember: A dream without a plan is a wish.


1 See https://www.financialsamurai.com/how-much-have-americans-saved-for-retirement/

2 Adapted from Real Simple magazine, December 2018, “How to Build Savings at Every Age,” Kate Rockwood.

3 https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/slideshows/10-retirement-planning-moves-to-make-in-your-20s?slide=8

4 Source: http://www.synchronybank.com/blog/average-retirement-savings-by-age-55