How much of your gross annual salary should you save each year?

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How much of your gross annual salary should you save each year?
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A lot of people get a later start in life when it comes to saving. It’s human nature that most people don’t even think about it until they turn 40.

But if you’re starting that late, chances are you may be falling behind.

Read more: How much to save each month to have $1 million in retirement

Know the salary rule

By age 35, you should have two times your annual salary saved up for retirement, according to the latest numbers from Fidelity Investments.

Five years later, you should have three times your annual salary. And on and on, until you reach 67 when you should have 10 times your annual salary saved.

Laid out visually, the Fidelity guidelines for individuals look like this:

  • By 35, save two times your gross annual salary
  • By 40, save three times your gross annual salary
  • By 45, save four times your gross annual salary
  • By 50, save six times your gross annual salary
  • By 55, save seven times your gross annual salary
  • By 60, save eight times your gross annual salary
  • By 67, save 10 times your gross annual salary

Your gross annual salary is the amount of income you earn before taxes and deductions. By contrast, your actual take-home pay that reflects all taxes and other deductions is called your net income.

If you’re getting a later start at saving, here are some things to keep in mind…

You may have to work longer than you expected

In the past, it was very common to retire and take Social Security at 62. But for every year you wait after 62, you have a roughly 8% return per year on your Social Security lifetime benefit. So if you wait from 62 to 70, the amount that Social Security pays climbs dramatically.

If you are physically able and planned to stop working in your early 60s, but you don’t have a lot saved, consider working as long you’re healthy — especially if you’re a woman or know you’re genetically blessed with longevity in your family.

You don’t want to outlive your money!

You can play catch-up with retirement savings

If you’re coming into the game kind of late, you can play catch-up. You have to be 50 or over to do this, but here’s how it works:

  • If you have a 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans or the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan, you can make an extra $6,000 contribution in 2017. (That’s on top of the existing $18,000 contribution limit for these plans.)
  • For those with IRAs, your can contribute an additional $1,000 in 2016, for a grand total of $6,500 in annual contributions.

You must reduce debt in your life!

Being debt free buys you so much freedom. If you’re still paying high interest rates, like on a credit card, get a lower interest card if you can qualify and transfer the balance. Look at that box on your monthly statement and see what you’d have to pay to be debt free in three years. Then resolve to pay that each and every month.

You need to budget money to pay down your debt just as you would budget for rent or a mortgage or a car payment.

Read more: Budgeting basics: What you need to know to get started

New app can help you pay down your student loan debt

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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