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retirement savings by age and lifestyle

How often do you think about retirement? If you’re close to retiring, it’s probably top of mind. But in your early 20s, never! 

Here’s the catch: The earlier you start saving, the more financial wealth and health you will experience. But how much is that, exactly? 

In this blog post, we talk numbers: 

  • how much should you be saving for retirement – at your age?  
  • how much should you have saved for retirement – in general? 
  • how long will your money last in retirement?

…and the key piece to the puzzle: how to know if the math adds up! 

Pro Tip: Curious to know how much money you’ll have at retirement? Skip the math. Take the free money quiz. Find out your future net worth, then come back to this post to see where you land.

👀 4min read

retirement savings by age

📸: Iconic Focus

How does retirement math work? 

There’s a magic ingredient called “compounding.".  

If you have a high-interest savings account, you’re probably familiar with it. The same is true for debt. (And why it can snowball out of control so quickly.)

The more (money) you save, the more (money) you make, because the interest is applied to your earnings, too. If you have $100 saved, and earn $1 in interest, next month you start with $101 dollars. 

Repeat over and over again, and see your earnings increase astronomically. 

The second magic ingredient is TIME. 

The MORE time your money has to grow in a retirement account (thanks, compounding) – the LESS cash you need to save today (aka more money in your pocket). 

So, when it comes to average retirement savings by age, this is why you always see financial gurus nagging young’uns to save, save, save.

You can get more, with less. 

All you gotta do is start. 

How much should I save for retirement? (by age)

Here’s a “cheat sheet” of average retirement savings by age if you're just starting out:

  • if you’re 20: save $300 per month 
  • if you're 25: save $450 per month 
  • if you’re 30: put $650 per month 
  • if you’re 35: put $900 per month 
  • if you’re 40: put $1,400 per month 
  • if you’re 50: put $3,200 per month 

(See? It’s crazy how much LESS you have to save, the earlier you start!)

What’ll happen by 65? 

Assuming you put your savings into a retirement account (not a savings account) AND you invested it (instead of keeping it as “cash”)...

You'll retire with ONE million dollars. Hello, freedom.

Of course, these are average numbers. Your actual monthly retirement savings will vary based on your financial picture, lifestyle, and retirement goals. 

So, let’s look at those next.

How much should I save for retirement? (by lifestyle)

If you follow the average monthly savings from the previous section, you’ll retire with $1M. But is one million enough for YOUR retirement? 

The quickest way to do the math in this case: 

Calculate how much money you spend right now, per month. Is it more or less than the estimates below? How much more (or less) do you think you’d need to live comfortably? 

For reference: 

  • IF you spend $2k a month > your retirement money goal = $720k 
  • IF you spend $3.5k a month > your retirement money goal = $1.3m 
  • IF you spend $5k a month > your retirement money goal = $1.8m
  • IF you spend $10k a month > your retirement money goal = $3.6m

As you can tell, your retirement money goal changes based on your lifestyle. So, the amount you should save (and at what age) will also change.

Plus, we haven’t even factored in stuff like family planning or retirement goals! (Gotta feed that retirement travel fund.)

This is where retirement calculators
like the ones you get access to as a Penny memberreally shine. They take the guesswork out of number-crunching, and free up brain space to live your life, knowing your future is taken care of.

How long will my money last in retirement?

You might as well reword this question as: 

How many years do you think you’ll need to support yourself (and your family) post-retirement? Calculate it from there! 

Most people benchmark $1 million for a “good retirement”. So, we used it as our reference. 

  • $1m for 15 years post-retirement = about $5k a month in spending 
  • $1m for 20 years = about $4k a month 
  • $1m for 25 years = about $3k a month 
  • $1m for 30 years = about $2k a month 

Remember: women live longer. About two-thirds of us live past 80; and one-third past 90. Almost one in ten even make it past 100! (source: Business Insider)

If you retire at 65, it’s probably a good idea to save enough to support yourself for another 15-20 years. 

Planning on early retirement? Then you’re looking at more years, and a bigger price tag. No need to fret, though. 

When it comes to retirement, most big goals are 100% attainable, even with the smallest budgets. (Thanks again, investing and compounding).

How do I know if I’m saving enough? 

By now, you already know you might need more than the “gold standard” of $1M. 

The numbers in this blog post are good benchmarks to start with. But your actual retirement goals (and how much to save) should be tailored to your age, income, lifestyle, money goals, and more. 

That’s where Penny can help.

Take the free money quiz. In 3min, it’ll tell you how much you’ll have saved for retirement based on your current numbers. 

Want something more in-depth? Become a member and get access to our retirement courses and smart calculators. Plug in your numbers and get the exact steps you need to take so you can put your feet up with comfort and confidence.

Or y’know, start subscribing to “golden girls” travel newsletters so you can continue to explore the world at 80! (No? Just us? Cool.)

Either way, we’ll be rooting for you! 


At Penny Finance, our goal is to provide easy and digestible financial education for women – so you can increase cash flow today, and retire with wealth tomorrow. Curious? Click here to learn more

Reading pants still on? Continue reading about retirement here. 

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