What Are the Average Retirement Savings by Age?

Retirement
Happy woman with her father overlooking the ocean and discussing average retirement savings by age

How much does your coworker have saved for retirement? What about your friends, your aunt and uncle, or your neighbor? If you've ever wondered about average retirement savings by age — and how you stack up — read on.

There are a lot of guidelines out there meant to help you figure out how much to save for retirement. But they don't necessarily tell the full story about where people stand in their retirement preparations.

It can be helpful to compare numbers like those in the guidelines with what the average person actually has in order to view your own savings within a greater context. We took a look at one of the most commonly-cited recommendations for retirement savings, provided by CNBC, which is based off salary. We also used median salaries by every age from Business Insider to help with our calculations, along with median and average retirement savings taken from another CNBC article.

Ready to see how you and everyone else compare to the suggested savings level? Here's how it currently breaks down, based on the average salary of people in each decade of life.

When You're in Your 20s

Suggested savings: CNBC recommends you have the equivalent of your annual salary saved by the time you're about to turn 30. The median income of someone in their mid-20s is $32,100.

Median savings: This number varies depending on the source you consult. U.S. News & World Report says those under 25 have an average of $4,773 in their 401(k)s, while those from 25-34 move up to an average of $24,728.

Your 20s are when you're just starting your career — and your fully independent adult life. Instead of focusing only on how much you need to have saved, you might decide to use 20 percent of your gross pay to increase your net worth. That could mean saving for retirement, but it might also mean paying down debt. At this stage of life, having anything saved is better than nothing.

When You're in Your 30s

Suggested savings: The guidelines recommend you have twice your annual salary saved by 35. The median income for a 35-year-old is $48,000, which means having $96,000 saved for retirement.

Median savings: $480. Average retirement savings total $31,644.

Obviously, both the average and the median savings amounts are considerably less than the recommended figures. If you find yourself in this boat, don't beat yourself up. Instead, you might consider focusing on stepping up your savings game. Now might be an ideal time to save, since you likely still have a long horizon to retirement. That means your contributions have plenty of time to earn compound interest and returns. (That said, no investment can guarantee growth, and investments can even lose value besides.)

When You're in Your 40s

Suggested savings: The guidelines recommend having four times your annual salary saved by 45, and the median salary for employees at 45 is $52,000. So when you're in your mid-40s, you'd want to aim to have around $208,000 in retirement savings.

Median savings: $6,200. The average is $81,347.

Once you enter your late 40s, you may not be able to depend on further increases in income to help you save more. Most people hit their peak salary somewhere in their late 40s to early 50s. It can therefore be important to budget carefully, get your expenses under control and increase your savings rate long before you enter your 40s so you don't find yourself in a position of earning too little to make up for earlier savings shortfalls.

When You're in Your 50s & Beyond

Suggested savings: The guidelines recommend having six times your annual salary saved by 55. The median income for a 55-year-old is $52,000, which means having $312,000 saved for retirement.

Median savings: The median for those in their early 50s is $8,000; the median for those in their late 50s is $17,000. The averages are $124,831 and $163,577, respectively.

Your "official" retirement age is usually defined by when you're eligible to receive full Social Security benefits. For most people right now, that's 67 (but the Social Security Administration has changed the rules in the past and may do so again in the future).

That means in your 50s and 60s, you're nearly there. You're almost through your saving years and may start counting down the days until you can start enjoying your retirement — and all that money you worked hard to put away.

By the Time You Retire

The suggested savings guidelines say you need about eight times your annual salary in savings as you turn 60. Then, you need to have 10 times your salary saved by the time you reach your late 60s. The median salary of a 67-year-old is $67,000 per year — which means you'd need $670,000 saved to retire by those standards.

If you're not on track with these numbers right now, don't panic. The most important thing is to be aware and begin to focus on what you can control. You can't change the past, but you can start taking actions to positively impact your financial situation — and perhaps even beat the average retirement savings by age in the decades to come.

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