Are you saving enough for the retirement you want? A good baseline is to save 10-15% of your pre-tax salary each year, but the amount that's right for you will depend on your specific goals, timeline, and financial situation.
Use our retirement calculator to test scenarios and see where you stand today and follow these age-based savings strategies to help you work toward the retirement lifestyle you want.
Your 20s are important when it comes to setting yourself up for a comfortable retirement. Why? Time is on your side when it comes to investing and retirement savings.
The longer your money is invested, the more you benefit from compound interest — you’ll earn interest on your initial investment money and on the interest that your investment accumulates over time.
A longer time horizon also means you can take on more risk in your investment portfolio as you work toward your long-term goals. Even if market volatility causes your portfolio to fluctuate in value, there is plenty of time for it to recover.
401(k). Start funding a 401(k) if your employer offers one, especially if your employer matches your contributions. For the 2023 tax year, you can contribute up to $22,500 if you’re under 50.
Traditional IRA. If you don’t have the option to open a 401(k), consider an individual retirement account (IRA). The maximum contribution for the 2023 tax year is $6,500 if you’re under age 50. With a traditional IRA, keep in mind that you’ll be taxed when you withdraw your funds.
Roth IRA. Another option is a Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, you’re taxed upfront but not when you withdraw your funds, which can help you maximize your tax savings later. The maximum contribution for the 2023 tax year is $6,500 if you’re under age 50. You can contribute to both a traditional and Roth IRA if your total contributions don’t exceed the annual limit.
Emergency fund. Begin building an emergency fund to prepare for unexpected expenses or a loss of income. The general rule of thumb is to have three to six months’ worth of your household income set aside for emergencies.
Wage growth. Every time you get a raise, bump up your 401(k) or IRA contributions. You might not even notice a difference, but your investments will benefit.
Everyone’s journey through life is different, but while your 20s are usually spent establishing a career and getting control of your finances, your 30s are when you’re likely to move toward financial maturity.
By the time the decade is out, you’ll likely have established your career and bolstered your earning power, which means you can afford to set more aside for retirement savings. You might have also bought property, gotten married and/or had children. You’re more confident in your earning potential and long-term goals.
Debt payments. Pay off higher interest debts, including college loans and credit cards. The money you free up can be put toward retirement savings.
Considerations for children. If you have or are planning on having children, consider a 529 plan to put money aside for their education without affecting your retirement savings.
Increasing contributions. Max out or boost your contributions to employer-sponsored retirement plans. Aim to set aside at least 10-15% of your pre-tax earnings for retirement.
Review fees. Different retirement accounts have different fees and expenses. You may want to work with a financial professional to streamline your portfolio’s fee structure.
Retirement plan consolidation. If you’re changing jobs, check if you have the option to roll over any previous employer-sponsored plans into an IRA to avoid penalties.
Life insurance. Now is the time to get life insurance if someone, such as a spouse or child, depends on your income.
You may still feel like you’re in your 30s (or even your 20s), but once you hit your mid-40s, retirement could be only a couple decades away and is no longer an abstract idea.
You’re likely in your prime earning years, so if you’re just starting to save for retirement, do so aggressively. And if you’re already investing in a retirement vehicle regularly, see if you can increase your contributions. Time is still on your side.
Retirement contributions. If you haven’t already, consider meeting with a financial professional to help ramp up your retirement planning, including maxing out contributions to retirement plans and coming up with an exact dollar amount for your final goal.
Debt management. Maintaining a mortgage may make sense for tax purposes, but look at other debt you carry to see how you can pay it off without putting pressure on your finances. This will free up funds for other areas of life, whether that’s increasing retirement contributions, helping to care for aging parents or other financial must-dos.
Large purchases. You might be considering a move to a larger home, remodeling your current home, buying a vacation home or making another large purchase. Make sure to factor in your retirement plan when determining the impact of this purchase on your long-term savings.
Retirement could be just a decade away. Meet with your financial professional at least annually to ensure your retirement plan is on track and your retirement contributions are at an appropriate level.
It may also be a good time to re-evaluate your investment strategy to align with your time horizon and feelings toward risk.
Contribution strategies. Take advantage of catch-up contributions. Individuals 50 and older can contribute an extra $1,000 to IRAs and an extra $7,500 to a 401(k).
Risk adjustments. You may want to consider shifting your portfolio to more conservative stocks to capture growth while minimizing risk. Think about adding more bonds or other relatively safe investments.
Remaining debt. Talk with a financial professional about paying off any remaining debts, such as a mortgage, to see if that’s a good option for you.
Disability and long-term care insurance. Research insurance options such as disability and long-term care to safeguard your retirement nest egg from unexpected events
IRA and 401(k) withdrawals. At 59½, you can start withdrawing from a 401(k) or an IRA without penalty; if you don’t need it, avoid doing so. You likely want to save it for retirement.
Retirement is nearly here. At this stage, you have an opportunity to make final adjustments to your retirement plan, but the most important task is to select a retirement date. Setting a retirement date will affect retirement benefits such as Social Security and will also determine the amount you need for a comfortable retirement.
Income needs. Plan your monthly income stream for retirement. Make sure you consider taxes, life expectancy, additional income sources and your investment portfolio in your retirement withdrawal strategy.
Social Security. Calculate when you should start drawing Social Security benefits. The longer you can wait to withdraw, the higher the monthly payment you’ll receive.
Modifications. You may want to continue adjusting your portfolio’s asset allocation into more conservative investments. As a potential hedge against inflation, however, consider retaining some aggressive positions that offer the possibility of higher returns.
Employment. Not sure there’ll be enough cash? Think about ways to keep earning in retirement, such as consulting in your current field or part-time work, if necessary.
Estate planning. Review your will and other key documents with your attorney, ensuring your wishes are accurately reflected.
Lifestyle transition. If you’ve been employed for your entire adult life, retirement can be a big adjustment emotionally as well as financially. Put a retirement lifestyle plan together that will keep you occupied and help you stay social, such as traveling, regular volunteering or picking up new hobbies. You may also consider downsizing your home if (or when) you’re empty nesters.
Retirement planning doesn’t stop when you’re retired. You’ve worked hard to build your IRA and/or employer-sponsored retirement plan over the decades, and now is the time to start reaping the benefits. Remember that at age 73, you’ll need to start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs). Your financial professional can help you assess what it will mean for you retirement income and investments.
Budgeting. Reassess your budget once you know exactly how much income will be coming in each month. Consider consulting a financial professional if you have any budgetary concerns as you adjust to living in retirement.
Communication. Have important financial conversations with family members about estate planning, including wills, trusts and beneficiaries.
Analysis. If you haven’t already done so, consider moderating any aggressive positions in favor of a more conservative investing strategy. But don’t overdo it. Some investment growth can help offset your drawdown of retirement accounts, so you remain funded throughout your retirement years.
Relaxation. Lastly, remember to enjoy your retirement savings! You’ve earned it.
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