How much should you have saved?

Nicole Sara Sivens
December 11, 2017
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When it comes to saving money, we all know we should be doing it.

Sorting out the details can be tough, and if you’re a little confused by the numbers, you aren’t alone. A 2016 study showed that a full third of Americans had $0 saved. That’s a huge problem.

Of the remaining people polled who did manage to save some money, half of them had less than $1,000 put aside. Obviously, $1,000 is not enough – but what is “enough”?

There are a few different viewpoints on what constitutes enough, but everyone agrees on one thing: You need an emergency savings account. Read on to see what else you should have saved and by what age.

Late-teens – early-twenties

$500-$1,000. This money is for emergencies only – think car repairs and surprise medical bills, not weekend trips and really nice boots.

Ideally, this money will be kept in a savings account that is linked to your checking account. This makes it easy for you to transfer money over when you’re still in the stashing stage and easy to access when you’ve got a financial emergency on your hands. If you really want to be ahead of the game, put this money into a liquid investment vehicle or a money market account.


½ your salary. For the average American working full time, this means you’ll need to have about $15,000 saved. That sounds like a lot, but look at it this way: If you give yourself 10 years to save, you are putting aside just about $30 per week. By adopting habits like budgeting, living below your means, and always taking that 401k match, you’ll get yourself there in no time.

This money should be kept in a mix of pre- and post-tax retirement accounts, like your company sponsored 401k and your own personal IRA.


1 times your salary. This is when it gets real. Again, working from that national average, you should have about $40,000 put aside. When you start early, you’ve got that magical compound interest on your side to help your savings grow.

Just like the previous decade, this money should be in a mix of retirement accounts. This is also the phase of life where you might decide to buy a home or start your own business. Those assets count, too!


3 times your salary. Yikes! That means about $150,000 for most of us.

The combined efforts of your mixed retirement accounts, real estate assets, and investments should get you to this point.


6 times your salary. $300,000 is no small nest egg, but it’s what you’ll need to strive for.

By spreading your savings, investments, and assets across lots of different categories, you’ll mitigate the risk involved with so much put aside.

Retirement age

10 times your salary. For most of us, this works out to be about $500,000. Good thing you started early!

At this stage of life, lots of us will sell our (hopefully paid off) homes, cash out any investments we’ve made over that past 30-40 years, and get ready to relax.

The difference between a person who begins to save in their twenties versus their forties is a big one. To hit that half-million dollar milestone, a person with 40 years to save needs to put aside $80 per week. A person with just 25 years to save has to sock away $200 per week.

The lesson here? Start early, act now, and have a plan.

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