The following question has been edited into a Q&A format and some details may have been changed to keep our listener’s information anonymous.
What to do if you are in your mid-late 30’s and haven’t saved for retirement? I did hear the podcast about if you are 35 and you haven’t saved for retirement you need to save $1,000 a month to be a millionaire (?) by retirement but I think an in-depth one for the 30’s would be great.
It happens and you’re not alone, 1 in 3 have not started saving for retirement. The best time to start saving for retirement was yesterday, and the next best time is today. It’s never too late but you do need to start.
You are correct, if you’re in your mid- to late-30s, and you want to retire a millionaire, we shared how much you need to save at 23, 30, 35, and 40 to retire a millionaire in our weekly PB Newsletter (subscribe here). For example, at age 23 you only need to save $415/month, but if you wait until age 35, you need to save $912/month to retire at age 67 with enough retirement savings to support you for the next 10, 20, or 30 years. To estimate your personal retirement savings needs, we recommend using a retirement calculator, such as the free one provided by CNN Money or you can use this calculator to answer the exact year you will be a millionaire based on various saving goals.
For Most Individuals, Your Employer Is Your First Retirement Plan Stop
Since I’m officially an older-Millennial, I can give the “back in my day” perspective on this topic now. In full disclosure, if you read my book, then you already know I wasn’t financially responsible in my 20s. This retirement calculator will tell you when it’s possible to retire which I found really helpful since I want to be fully financially stable before I retire! Further, as I’ve often discussed on the show, of the “spender vs saver” personality types, I’m a spender by nature. For this reason, I’m fortunate that my first (and current) job after college automated my retirement plan.
If your company has an automatic opt-in policy or employer match for a 401k or 457b, I highly recommend you take advantage. I didn’t fully appreciate how lucky I was to have an opt-in requirement to save for my retirement in my 20s. Thanks to the amazing power of compound interest, those 20-something savings are going to be worth exponentially more to me 33 years from now. As a general rule, if you’re a natural spender — meaning you’re happiest when you’re spending money and only moderately enthused when you’re budgeting and saving money — I recommend you automate your savings as much as possible. Including my employer match, my goal is to save up to 20% of my before tax income each month for retirement.
Your Retirement Plan Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
In addition to my employer-sponsored retirement plans, working in (free) consultation with an investment advisor around 2014, I established a separate 401k for additional savings and to further diversify my retirement options. You should tailor your plan to your needs, but I chose a retirement target date index fund based on my expected retirement age/year (67).
My investment strategy assumes I will retire at age 67, even if I hope to retire as early as my 40s. Age-based funds are set up so that the younger you are, the riskier your fund will be due to the fact that you have time to make up for any large market changes. As you age, the fund becomes less risky in preparation for your pending retirement. Whether you’re just starting to save for retirement in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, you’re investing for the first time, or you’re just not sure where to put your money over the next 30+ years because you’re not psychic, then an age-based fun might be an easy way for you to automate your savings and ensure all you do is win, win, win no matter what.
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