How much do you need to have saved for retirement at age 30? 40? 50? It's a complicated -- and very personal -- question, but here are some useful benchmarks based on age and income.

American workers today lack confidence in their ability to retire, due in part to a misunderstanding about how much it will take to fund a successful retirement.

A recent report by the Employee Benefits Research Institute found that fewer than half of American workers today are either “very confident” or “confident” in their ability to retire.

Why are so many workers so worried?

Part of the problem may be that so many are overestimating the percentage of their salary they need to be saving. A full 44 percent of those surveyed think they need to save somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of their salaries.

Related: How much should you contribute to your 401(k)?

Holy moly. No wonder so many people are terrified to get started. The good news is that, for most of us, the percentage we need to save is substantially lower than what many of us think. The even better news is that the earlier you start, the less you’ll have to save over time.

JPMorgan Asset Management puts together an annual Guide to Retirement for financial planners to use with customers (er, clients). The 2016 edition was released in March and, thanks to the internet, is available for anyone with an internet browser.

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Even though I personally try to minimize pricey investment fees, the big investment houses have access to big data that’s helpful to all of us—whether we do it ourselves or hire a planner to help set our course.

This report assumes that those at lower income levels will have a higher percentage of their retirement income supplemented by Social Security benefits. If you’re not confident about the future of the entitlement program, you’ll want to add a boost to the numbers below.

These numbers are based off the following assumptions:

The investor will earn an annual return of 6.5 percent until retirement and then 5 percent per year after (to account for a more secure post-retirement portfolio). In the following examples, retirement begins at age 65 and will last 30 years. Inflation will average 2.25 percent and the investor will contribute at a rate of 5 percent per year.

That said, here’s how much the Big Boys recommend we have put aside at different age milestones.

How Much Should You Save By Age 30

If you make…. You should have saved…
$50,000 $20,000
$75,000 $82,500
$100,000 $130,000
$150,000 $270,000
$200,000 $420,000

These numbers assume that lower income earners will have a higher percentage of social security money as part of their annual retirement income. You can see that the grid recommends the lowest income earners identified within this research (those making around $50k per year) have only 40 percent of their annual salary saved by age 30.

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The percentage increases to 110 percent for those at the $75,000 threshold, 130 percent for those making $100,000 and a whopping 180 percent for those making $150,000 per year.

Why? According to J.P. Morgan, higher income earners will need to replace a greater percentage of their current income during retirement. Don’t just take their word for it, though. Use these numbers as a guide but do your own analysis to determine how much you expect to spend during retirement.

For a different perspective, last year Money Under 30 wrote about how much a 30-year-old should have saved so far for retirement. According to founder David Weliver’s analysis, a good guideline, assuming you’ve been working since age 22 or 23, is to have the equivalent of one year’s salary put away in a retirement vehicle like a 401(k) or IRA. You can read more about that recommendation here.

Related: Where to Invest: 401(k), IRA, or both?

Related: What rate of return to use for retirement planning

How Much Should You Save By Age 40

If you make…. You should have saved…
$50,000 $60,000
$75,000 $165,000
$100,000 $260,000
$150,000 $480,000
$200,000 $740,000

By age 40, the checkpoints indicate an expectation that you’ve been saving for a while. (And if you’re reading this website, that’s probably true!) At all income levels except the lowest, these guidelines suggest having at least 100 percent of current salary put away. I agree. By age 40, you’re less able to rely on the power of compound interest, which is the most powerful investment tool a young person has at his or her disposal.

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The only exception here is the lowest income level, $30,000, which is expected to have 50 percent of one year’s salary put away. At age 30, there was no expectation that someone making $30,000 would have anything saved at all.

For another perspective, a recent Forbes article suggests all 40-somethings should be saving at least 20 percent of salary for “financial priorities,” which include debt payments, savings, and retirement contributions.

I’ll go ahead and unpack this a little further: the less you’re required to allocate toward debt at this point in your life, the more you’ll have to save for retirement—and the greater the chances that your account will sustain you throughout those golden years.

How Much Should You Save By Age 50

If you make…. You should have saved…
$50,000 $125,000
$75,000 $292,500
$100,000 $450,000
$150,000 $810,000
$200,000 $1,240,000

By this point, the checkpoints indicate you should have several times your salary saved, unless you’re in the lowest income bracket, at which case, you’re fine if you’ve got 1.5 times your salary socked away. The expected multiple increases with income, but the point remains: By the time you reach age 50, you should have been saving for quite some time.

If you’re 50 and you haven’t saved as much as you’d like, there is some good news. There are several catch-up provisions written into the retirement tax code for those aged 50 and above. If you can, now is the time to take advantage of them.

For 2016, you can contribute an additional $6,000 to your 401(k), 403(b), SARSEP, or 457 retirement plan. These plans are employer-sponsored. If you don’t know which, if any, your employer offers, check in with your HR department.

SIMPLE IRA or SIMPLE 401(k) plan participants aged 50 and above can contribute an extra $3,000 in 2016 up to an annual limit of $12,500.

IRA and Roth IRA owners aged 50 and above can contribute an additional $1,000 per year. These are individual accounts that can be directly opened by you, if you don’t already own one. We recommend using robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront, which do all the work for you.

How Much Should You Save By Age 60

If you make…. You should have saved…
$50,000 $215,000
$75,000 $487,500
$100,000 $730,000
$150,000 $1,320,000
$200,000 $1,980,000

For most people, age 60 is where the rubber meets the road. Retirement is just a few short years away. This is the time to funnel as much extra income as you can toward your retirement accounts, before your income-earning years come to a close.

If you need an extra reason to save, consider the rising cost of healthcare. According to a recent report released by Fidelity and reported by AARP, the average retiree can expect to spend around $240,000 for healthcare-related costs. This number doesn’t include the cost of long-term care or the costs associated with early retirement, for those who need to close the gap between when they leave their job and age 65, when Medicare kicks in.

If you’re struggling to find ways to boost your savings, Emily Guy Birken, author of “The 5 Years Before You Retire: Retirement Planning When You Need It the Most,” suggests, “Now is the time to downsize. Not only can you beef up your retirement savings with any money you are able to generate from the sale of your home (and capital gains taxes do not kick in on a home sale until you are making more than $250,000 from the sale as a single filer, or $500,000 as a married couple), but moving to a smaller space while you are still working can help ease the psychological transition to retirement.”

How Much Should You Save By Age 65

If you make…. You should have saved…
$50,000 $280,000
$75,000 $630,500
$100,000 $940,000
$150,000 $1,695,000
$200,000 $2,540,000

According to the checkpoints, here are the final tallies for retirees at age 65. If you want to have a more lavish retirement than what’s represented in the examples above, start increasing your 401(k) (or other retirement plan) contributions now, so you can reap the greatest compounding benefits.

Check out the entire Retirement Savings Checkpoints grid below. Or, view the entire JPMorgan Asset Management 2016 Guide to Retirement.

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And, for those of you who like what’s found within the fine print (like me!):

The model these numbers used were based on the following assumptions about how much preretirement income you need to replace based on your income.

What percentage of your income will you need to replace in retirement?

If you make…. You should have saved…
$30,00016% of your income
$50,000 23% of your income
$75,000 34% of your income
$100,000 38% of your income
$150,000 45% of your income
$200,000 51% of your income

Happy saving!

Read more:

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About the author

Total Articles: 10
Alaina Tweddale is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer focusing on consumer finance and technology. Prior to going out on her own in 2013, Alaina worked for 15 years in the marketing departments of financial giants like Lincoln Financial Group, Delaware Investments, and Cendant Mortgage.

Article comments

We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30. Comments have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser, nor are they reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.
Saumil Pradhan says:

I need some financial advice.

I am 30, currently making 60K a year and I live in New York City.

I have barely saved 13K in my savings account. I started working professionally in 2014, before that i did not have any source of income as I was busy getting my Bachelor’s and Masters.

How much can I realistically target assuming my salary stays in the range of 60K-100K range for the next 10 years. ?


Faye says:

That is all nice, but do you know how much a person who make $23,000 a year should start saving at age 53?

Jayjay says:

Every penny they can afford to save

Giulia from Belgium says:

Oh wow, this was a big scare.

For a moment I was really like, what have I done with my life until now!

I am an European living in Europe, I have for my age quite a well off salary, and these numbers shocked me. Also, it showed me that I am quite ignorant in terms of how wages work in the US. I earn 24,000€ a year, and manage to set aside a whole 8,000 a year or so! So to see that salaries for you (supposedly writing to a common citizen) “start” at 50,000 was quite informative.

Here part of the taxes on my salary go to build up a state-led retirement fund, my employer (as most do here in Belgium) has a pension scheme for all of us, but I am also investing in a private pension scheme.

Do you have any tips for the EU, or is your knowledge-base too linked with the US system?

Texconsin says:

Sorry to butt in, as I’m already 61, but I just wanted to say that it’s nice to finally see published a common sense “minimum income to replace” percentage. “Butt” (again), I would like to ask donaldmajor972, “how the heck have you, at age 30, already saved $400K (and where does a 30 year old find a $90K/year job?”

John Fisher says:

Work in sales, consulting, or healthcare. My friend at 26 made $100,000, which was base+commision.

ap324 says:

As a young Military Veteran I’ve been making over 100k a year after I left the service. Have over 600k saved by age 32 already. Number of ways use our experience for most Security Contract jobs overseas, Maritime(cargo ship security), Oil field and off shore oil rigs whether its actually working on the rigs them selves in a number of positions available or security. Its a busy life, expect to work 12 plus hours a day, be far far away from home, expect not to have basic luxuries for many months at a time before any sort of leave or vacation days are allowed to be taken. I am thinking of doing another 5 years or so, by then I should have a million plus. Find some where to settle down at, work a part time job or volunteer and live off my investments and part time income without touching too much of my principle thats already been saved.

donaldmajor972 says:

This is my plan. It’s working so far! At age 30, I have $400,000 saved and I make $90,000/year.

1 – Save long enough for big purchases (car, house) so that payments plus all other expenses don’t go over 50% of net monthly income. Save the other 50%
2 – Never EVER carry a credit card balance (unless it’s an emergency)
3 – Every time you get a raise, automatically direct the difference to a savings/investment account
4 – Understand the difference between a want and a need and try to indulge in fewer ‘wants’
5 – Cut back spending on monthly expenses like cable, internet, insurance, etc. (look at $25/month auto insurance from InsurancePanda, for example)
6 – Buy healthy foods and avoid excessive eating out. Pack your own lunches
7 – Focus on accumulating assets. A car is not an asset. Better if they generate cash flow.

NIcole says:

I’d like to know more as well, it sounds like you could really teach me something!

I’m a 27 year-old, making ~$115K this year. I started at just $37.5K at my first job at 22 and have grown over the last 5 years. But I’ve only managed to save $80K (and $25K of that is in my current condo that i plan to turn in to an investment property down the line). How many years have you been making $90K and saving 50%? Where have you leveraged the greatest amount of return to accelerate up to that $400K savings? Did that $400K all come straight from your earnings? And finally, what advice would you have for the rest of us?

Alex says:

Thanks for posting this! I’m currently on my own journey to retire by 30 (I’m 24 now) and its good to see that you’ve made such a huge dent. I’m planning on using some of your techniques in reaching my goals, but I am going to focus on building passive income while paying off debt.

Happy Saving!

Bob says:

Good job….I don’t know any 30 somethings who have saved that much. Do you do anything that costs money?

Sam says:

My friend in college had his home paid off in full by 25;
I’m 33, and I have 380k saved up. And this is working at Staples at minimum wage until I was 25.

I have travelled to Europe, Asia, Australia.
It’s not hard to save. Like the above poster said.
Any raise, put directly into a separate account.
Don’t spend money on wants.
Basically just lived on public transit;
Didn’t buy anything material; only spent the money on experiences.
Pretty much never ate out; and when I did, it would be a one-off at a nice place.
Ate pretty much just ground turkey, chicken, fruits, and vegetables. Stews, curries, burgers, etc.

I didn’t save as much as I could, as I travelled internationally for a month every summer.

Best investment, was to -not- put it in retirement funds (401k), but in a taxable savings account; so that it could be used for things like a house down-payment; or early retirement (plan to be retired by 45). Wealthfront is an amazing (set it and forget) stock trade service. Being young, I just set my risk to 10/10 ; though I’ll be dialling that back to 7 or 8 as the years go on.

Biggest benefit it to have the discipline to not spend it; and to put as much as you can on each pay cheque away. I aim for 25% on pay-day; then the day before the next pay-day; I put in all but $200. So, my bank account is always near zero. But that means I am saving the most I can, without too much impact to my day-to-day

ray says:

This article is useless to 70 – 75% of the population. Why? Well, most people (an individual, not a household, no matter their age) do not come close to the 50k a year.

Again, this article is useless to most all that reads it. Why?

1. As stated, most individuals make less (some far less) than 50k a year.

2. Most all companies do not pay their employees (ASIDE FROM MANAGEMENT) enough to afford them to be able to contribute the percentages this article advises……..NOT EVEN CLOSE!

3. Overtime?????? Are you serious? 99% of ALL companies are cutting back to part time employees. These days it takes two part time jobs to make ONE job.

4. Education? LOL….Most all degrees are nothing more than a piece of paper if it is a BS and heavens forbid a degree lower than a BS. Higher degrees can pay off but even then, the cost to acquire out weighs the reward about half the time unless you acquire the higher degree younger in life to have time to let the higher earnings out weigh the cost. A BS degree is the new high school diploma to most employers.

I could go on and on here but I will stop here and say that the article is of use to some (the other 25 – 30% of the population). Why?

1. They actually do make the salaries the article states. So they can afford to contribute being most of them are management / professional type employees.

2. Most all of the people that the article helps already has the education they need. Other wise they would not be making suck high salaries.

Once again, I could go on and on but will stop again.

BTW, I can give a great real life example that the 75 – 80% of US citizens can and WILL relate to as it sounds a lot like their life.

Lets say there is a retail store called Walsmart:

To make this simple lets say one store has 100 employees. Out of that 100 employees there at best 10 in management and make the 50k to 100k ballpark per year. LOL…….what about the other 90? They make at most 18 – 25k a year and some even less.

Now, tell me how the 90 at that particular store can come even close to what you advise. Remember (before you start suggesting education, moving etc) that most at that job have families to support and there is no way (in real life) to stop work and go to college only to get a BS degree to compete for not much higher wages since a BS degree is more or less the new high school diploma.

I only see two things the articles mentioned that could even be considered close to be useful:

1. Get another job. We will call it a third job since most have to find two jobs to equal what use to be ONE full-time job. Remember most companies are hiring more and more part-time work that is usually 20 something odd hours a week.

2. Start some sort of business. Maybe a lawn service or something of the sort.

I know the author of this article meant well but he/she really needs to structure the title to really fit the demographic that it pertains to in REAL LIFE unless he/she intended to speak to only 25% or so of the population. If that is the case, then well done!

Stuart says:

Did you read who this website is for? It says it right there next to David Weliver’s picture:

“His website, Money Under 30, provides approachable, nonjudgemental financial advice to over 500,000 YOUNG PROFESSIONALS every month.”

Sam says:

27% of the workers in this country make 50k +. (2014 numbers)
50% of the workers in this country make 30k+. (Which is the base line they use in this article)

Many of these workers are based in CA, WA, OR, MN, CT, MD, NY, PA, and HI. All of which have household incomes that are greater than 60k for more than 50% of their population. (WA 50% is at 70k for instance)

( As an aside, it is regularly, republican states that earn significantly less on average.
And for them, without the social-net programs in place, that at a cost to the whole, cause a upsurge in overall income for everyone as people are more free to take risks, be entrepreneurs, and make themselvers a higher standard of living on the communial funds. )

My first job out of college at 24 paid 85k in San Diego.
I had job offers in AZ (40k), UT (35k), TX (45k), and ID (35k), OR (50k) and WA (70k), MN (50k)
Needless to say, I moved from MN to California.

That said, I did manage to travel to Japan, and Europe, while earning 7.50/hr at a Walmart during college. It’s not terribly difficult to save vast amounts of money if you always stash 25% of your income away. (or, subtracting for rent, stash 40-50% of what remains).

Kathy says:

I’m 60 and my husband is 62. I am disabled however my SSD was denied. I have hired an attorney to fight the denial. My husband earns 90000 per year. He had a heart attack earlier He wants to retire at age 65. We have many medical expenses including medicine, copays deducted from husband’s paycheck (currently 4000), in addition to co-pays for doctor and specialist, testing etc. At age 65 he will receive Medicare and will pay need to pay for supplemental insurance. I, on the other hand will need to buy private insurance insurance for 2 years. We currently have 200,000 saved. In addition to that we have an 401(k) which an addition $300,000. Our emergency fund is fine.
I am concerned that this may not be enough money to retire safely given our health and insurance. We thought we were doing everything “right” until I had to quit my job.

Stuart says:

You should look into Obamacare. You cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. Right now, your husband’s income might be too high, but when he retires, is on Medicare and is only receiving pension and SS, your income should be in the right range to get tax credits to lower the premiums. This was precisely a scenario for which Obamacare was created. Many people couldn’t take early retirement at 62 because they would lose their health insurance if they didn’t wait till they were eligible for Medicare. It has been claimed that Obamacare has resulted in a wave of early retirees even younger than 62! And to think how hard some people fought against it… How some people even tried to make the USA default on its debt to force Obama to roll back Obamacare. The prospect of the debt default sent the DOW Jones average down 900 points and my retirement savings went south too. I have not forgotten which political party spearheaded this effort. Heck, one of the ringleaders (Ted Cruz) is even running for President right now.

Heidi says:

I echo Kate’s criticism of this article. There aren’t very many 20-somethings that I know who are making over 50K a year, myself included. What should people like us do about retirement? What if you’re not locked into a company that has 401(k) options? The trend is no longer to work at the same company your entire life. I’d like to see an article that gives financial advice about retirement savings and such for those of us who didn’t have it all figured out at 21, or 25, or gasp, even 30! What if you are, like me, in a low-paying field but love the work you do? Advice like “move to a higher paying area and switch careers” isn’t going to work for everybody.


If you love what you do and don’t want to move, find a way to move up where you are or find a way to be comfortable with what you have. My other advice included increasing your education / credentials if applicable, picking up extra hours or an extra job. Hard choices must be made by everyone, and none of them are “the right one”.

Essentially, here’s six options for your scenario, in order from most difficult to easiest to enact (in terms of effort):
1. Move to another part of the country
2. Change fields
3. Pick up a second job
4. Work OT
5. Get a raise / move up in your company or go to a competitor for a bump in pay
6. Do nothing and be comfortable with what you earn.

David says:

Well this is a great article as a starting point. According to this article I am doing great and will continue to do so. I am active duty military and been in for 11 years. So 9 more years and I get that pension of around $22,000-27,000 a year till I die depending on my rank when I retire. So that will help me a ton later on in life. Right now I am 30 and have $22K in my TSP and Roth IRA. I have $4K in a money market fund for emergency. I also have an additional $2,300 in cash and silver in my safe. On top of all that I have $2,500 in a savings account looking into what to do with it. Thinking just a regular mutual fund for future purchases like a house or a car later down the road. So with all that I have about $30,800 saved up. Not bad seeing I make about $47K a year and really started saving about 3-4 years ago. I also have 0 debt none at all. I have owned my car for 3 years. I do feel I should have put more aside for when I want to upgrade my car in the future. I feel with my good money habits and my future pension I will be sitting pretty in my 60s. My plan is once I retire at age of 39 from the military I will have my BA in Finance so go into that filed and hope to make around $40K-50K a year and just invest my whole pension. If I decide I don’t like the finance field as work. I have 4 years of college paid for by the military and will go back to school for Nursing or maybe Vet Tech. During that time in school they pay my tuition and pay me about $8K a year so that with working part time plus my pension should hold me down for 4 years of school. Only bad thing is during those years I might have to cut back my saving seeing I would just be working part time. But besides that small gap I’m thinking I will be fine. That pension really pays off.

Meg says:

I just want to point out that how much you make does not and should not necessarily correlate to how much you will need or want to spend in retirement. Just because you get a raise doesn’t mean you should suddenly feel like you are behind in retirement savings based on charts like these!

Many high earners spend 20-40% of their pay on taxes, save another 15-25%, and spend a majority of the rest on huge housing costs and expenses related to their children (daycare, private school, college, weddings). In retirement many of the large expenses go away, especially if you downsize or pay off the mortgage.

My husband and I both make 6 figures now, but we save 30% of our gross, pay 20% of gross in taxes, and still have student loan and car payments. We wouldn’t need even 50% of our gross income in retirement in order to live the same lifestyle – even considering increases in health insurance costs.

Jessica says:

Quick question: When you say “have saved” do you mean as part of a 401K or is this what your net worth should be at these milestones? We have around $70,000 saved in 401Ks and in our Roth IRA but also an additional $150,000 in our home. We live in the Boston area to give a reference and are 32 years of age. My question is whether we are on track or if we need to contribute more to our 401K. Right now we are contributing at a rate of 10%.


I’d personally consider this as saved up. Understandably, you might not retire in Boston, but even the suburbs (at least North and directly West of Boston) are pricy and you’ll always need a place to reside, which will tie up some money. Any money “made” from moving into a new home down the road can be considered a bonus / extended vacation free of charge. I try to play conservatively, because at the end of the day, it’s always better to overestimate what you’ll need than to underestimate it.

My advice to anyone would be to save everything can comfortably can, or try to at least follow the 20/80/20 Budget (I’m biased in it, but it works).

I appreciate the in depth response. Have you considered switching employers or even fields (sounds like the PHD talk has you thinking about the latter)? Possibly an even more difficult decision, have you thought about moving to a more expensive (i.e. higher paying) part of the country? I lived in the Midwest for a year knowing that I’d be moving back after a few years tops (moved from New England). I just wanted to experience something new. While income is much lower there, so are most expenses (namely housing, food, and entertainment).

My #3 question in my original post might relate to those currently making under $50k. It seems like the article was flawed in a few ways, including the possibility of moving up in income brackets altering the numbers needed.

My advice to anyone making under $50K and wanting to make more is to find a better paying job, move to a more expensive (i.e. better paying) part of the country, pick up OT if applicable, or pick up a second (or third) job. If you’re happy with what you’re doing, what you make, and where you’re heading don’t worry about my advice or the above post. There isn’t an exact number or percentage that fits everyone.

Lastly, I’d honestly consider looking into a Traditional IRA and consider the pros and cons for your situation vs the Roth IRA. Neither is necessarily wrong since you’re socking away money for retirement either way., but there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each.

Best of luck.

Jacob says:


Good article. I seem to be somewhere in the middle of being on track for retirement. I noticed you gave the advice to Kate to look into a traditional IRA rather than a ROTH. I would like your feedback on my thoughts:

To me, the decision of Roth vs Traditional primarily comes down to when you want to pay taxes on the money. If I were Kate, in the lowest tax bracket possible, I would want to pay taxes on the money right now, thus her move should be a ROTH IRA. I would go so far as to say that anyone in the bottom 2 tax brackets should be shoving as much money possible into ROTH vehicles. Statistically speaking, they are unlikely to retire in a lower tax bracket (they may retire in the same bracket).


Thanks for your response. While your points are valid, there’s a flip side to the equation as well. Will the lowest bracket have the same tax rate in the future? Also, is an additional refund amount (i.e. the taxes not paid right now) that can be reinvested or used to attack debt thereby increasing net worth immediately. Obviously it’s going to be different from person to person on if they have better uses for the money now or what they think tax rates will do or even if Roth’s will be protected down the road.

I’m in the mindset of using additional funds now to further build wealth, staying in a lower income bracket longer (more pre-tax savings = lower MAGI), and not trusting the government to keep the same tax system in place over the next 40+ years. Unfortunately, because of consistent concerns about the US debt and the US budget, I’m concerned that not only will the higher income brackets get taxed more, but so will the lower brackets, either via higher tax rates or fewer deductions and credits.

Mark says:

Sorry, I just re-read my post and would like to clarify – retiring as “middle class” is the way to go – since it’s the largest voting segment and therefore largely protected from change. The upper and lower income brackets are more volatile because of smaller populations being held within each, and a constant call for everyone to “pay their fair share”. No one asks the middle class to pay more because it’s political suicide to do so. If currently in a low income bracket and the money is more valuable to you now than later (building and emergency fund or additional training/education comes to mind), pay taxes later and secure yourself now with the additional refund amount, albeit small. If you’re comfortable and relatively secure financially, then pay taxes now and enjoy the extra few bucks later, as long as Roth’s stay protected from taxes upon withdrawal.

Teryn says:

So I’m curious to know what percentage this means I’m putting away annually? I’m 27, and currently make $93,000/ year I save 5% annually so about $4,700/ year.


If you’re saving 5% of your salary, it sounds like you’re saving 5%.

Mario says:


I’m 31 I totally expect social security to be bankrupt/privatized by the time we get of age. In regards to 2015 dollars I agree, to point 3 I’m going to give them a pass and say they tried to limit variables. Since I’ve being saving I’ve heard 70-100%. I’m special due to being in the military so I max out my Roth then contribute 15% in my Roth TSP. I often have conversations with my civilians friends and I feel my other millennials will be in trouble due to being unemployed/unpaid.


First, thank you for your service. I agree that millennials as a whole are in trouble. However, at least in my experience, many others in our age group complain about things not being fair, rather than actually doing something about it and trying to get ahead. Again, this is just my experience, so let me know if your experiences differ. Making more isn’t hard, it’s just a choice to make – working OT, second job, changing companies, working extra hours for a promotion, changing industries, furthering education, starting a business, improving credentials. Everyone knows these things can help a motivated individual, but there’s an opportunity cost associated with each.

Your thoughts?

Kate says:

Hi Marc,

I don’t mind answering your questions at all, and I will below in a moment. I just found it curious that this article wouldn’t list any advice for those 20-somethings who make under $50K a year – especially considering the recent article featured on Money Under 30, “The 2015 Millienial Money Survey”. According to that article, a full 75% of 20-somethings make $50K or LESS a year. I am just curious as to why there are no guidelines listed here for those of us who fall into that 75%?

To answer your questions – and yes, I realize these are not huge money-making fields – I have a bachelor’s degree in both English and Psychology, both Honors programs with a 3.9 GPA. I work in marketing in the Midwest, and have been out of college for six years. Despite working full time for six years, I don’t receive any health benefits, retirement benefits, or PTO from my employer. Most of us in my office are in the same situation – we’re considered “contracted” employees (despite our long work histories), and as such, don’t have access to 401(K)s or an employer retirement match.

That said, I’ve managed to stash $7K in a Roth IRA that I opened myself, while making $25K gross a year ($22K net). I absolutely agree that it’s important to save for retirement, and that the more you can while you’re young, the better. And I feel that I’m fortunate, because I don’t have any debt, and I have a part-time transcription job on the side as well. I do plan to go back to school (for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology), and hope I’ll be able to save more for retirement after I get my Ph.D.

However, I wanted to point out that most 20-somethings make less than $50K a year, may be saddled with debt, and/or are unable to go back to school (because of family responsibilities, for example) – so this article is not going to be particularly helpful to many of us.

Fazilet says:

I am in Canada but based on your figures I think we are on track.

Love your articles even though I am > 30

How I cannot post this is there a minimum number of characters ?

Kate says:

Great advice – thank you for this article. It’s nice to see some definite numbers re: how much we should be putting away for retirement. Though I have to say… my only response to making $50,000 a year before age 30 is… “yeah, right, I wish!” Try half that – that’s what I make, even with a college degree. Granted, I know I’m on the lower end of things, but still.


Do you mind me asking what your degree is in, where you live, and what your industry/profession is? Please don’t answer them if you’re uncomfortable doing so, but these might be factors in why you make what you do. Also, have you pursued doing something different (i.e. switching to a higher paying field, second job, overtime, further education/ credentials)?


Jingle says:

I’m 27 and make 103k before bonus. I’m expecting a significant raise 10k+ this September due to my promotion. It really depends on where you live and what you do

Mark @ HigherAverage says:

Four main takeaways I have from this:
1. Do you think Social Security will be able to replace the same % of income that it does now for retirees? If not, shouldn’t the figures needed above be higher to offset the future reduction in SS?

2. Assuming the figures you posted are all in terms of today’s dollars (I don’t think they are though, meaning these numbers are lower than they already appear), someone making 100K / year will need to live on <$30K per year + SS? Isn't the max SS benefit currently under $30K / year? Isn't this unrealistic? Don't even start with the 50K/year example – they will have $9.5K + SS per year to live on.

3. If you move up income brackets (assuming most people will earn more at 45 than at 25), you're now woefully behind on savings goals.

4. Why are you aiming to replace < 1/2 of your income in retirement? Yeah, some expenses go down (transportation), but others certainly go up (healthcare). Most recommendations I've seen are 80%+ pre-retirement income replacement.

Curious what everyone else is thinking regarding this.