How Much Should You Have Saved for Retirement by Now?

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Much has been made about Americans and their savings habits over the years. Depending on your age, you may be anxious about your retirement prospects when you look at your savings. You may well wonder how much you should have saved for retirement by now.

One of money expert Clark Howard’s favorite brokerage firms, Fidelity, has some numbers that should help you know whether you’re keeping up — or falling behind.

Know This Simple Salary Rule

By age 35, you should have twice your annual salary saved up for retirement, according to Fidelity. By age 40, you should have saved three times what you make in a year and so on.

The Fidelity guidelines for individuals look like this:


To be clear, these numbers are aspirational, and your specific situation and goals may be different. That age-based analysis is based on the following assumptions:

  • That you annually save 15% of your income starting at age 25 (including any employer match).
  • Invest more than 50% on average of your savings in stocks over your lifetime.
  • Retire at age 67.
  • Plan to maintain your pre-retirement lifestyle in retirement.

It Is Never Too Late To Start Saving

Clark never wants you to feel discouraged about your retirement savings:

“Whatever you’ve been able to do, whatever you’ve done, that’s what you’ve been able to do up to this point,” Clark says. “From here, it’s all about where you are now and how you’re going to move forward.”

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

Try To Meet Your Company 401(k) Match

“The beauty of an employer match is that it’s the equivalent of an automatic pay raise,” Clark says. “No need to ask your boss, get a good quarterly review or hope your company has a good year so there’s money for a raise!”

Read up on how a 401(k) works.

If your employer doesn’t offer a 401(k), you have another option: Open a Roth IRA with a low-cost provider like Vanguard, Fidelity or Schwab.


“A Roth IRA is the most efficient place for you to have money grow for your retirement because the money in it grows tax-free and is spent tax-free,” Clark says.

Read our guide on how to open a Roth IRA.

Play Catch-Up With Retirement Savings

There are mandated limits to how much money you can save in tax-advantaged retirement accounts. The good news is that, if you’re coming into the game late, you can play catch-up. You have to be 50 or over to do this, but here’s how it works:

Visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website for more information. You can also see our updated guide on retirement savings account contribution limits.

Make Extra Cash

It can be difficult to balance a full-time job and a side hustle, but it’s a great way to boost your retirement savings. From participating in surveys to delivering groceries to renting out your home, there are several ways to make more money. You may not get rich quickly, but the extra money can go straight to your savings account.

If taking on more work takes too much of your time, try selling some of your old, unwanted items or look through your monthly subscriptions to see if you can cut any monthly expenses.

Read our guide on how to make extra money.

Final Thought

Clark has strong feelings about saving for retirement:

“The highest priority is to save for your own retirement. The highest priority,” Clark says.

Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been saving for decades, there are several things you can do to prepare for retirement and reach financial freedom. No matter where you are on your journey, check out Clark’s 10-step guide to saving and investing. If you follow each step, you’ll lower any anxiety about money and increase your financial security.