Average Retirement Savings by Age & How Much You Need

Before you can break down the amount you need to retire, it can help to know where you fall when compared to the rest of the population.

Stephanie Faris

Published February 18th, 2021

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • It’s important to start setting some money aside for retirement.
  • By the age of 35, only 35 percent of survey respondents say they’re “on track” with their retirement savings goals, which is defined as $100,000 or more.
  • If you haven’t started saving yet, it’s important to determine exactly how much you’ll need based on your anticipated retirement expenses.

Do you have money set aside for retirement? If so, you’re already ahead of some of the population. According to a Federal Reserve survey, one-fourth of U.S. adults say they have no retirement savings at all. But even if you do have money set aside, will it be enough?

Although the average retirement age has been gradually creeping upward over the years, so has the life expectancy. That means you’ll need that savings to stretch longer than you might have planned. No matter what age you are, it’s never too late to start saving for retirement.

What is the Average Retirement Savings?

Before you can break down the amount you need to retire, it can help to know where you fall when compared to the rest of the population. The average savings by age can vary widely, but overall, the median retirement savings account is $65,000.

Retirement Savings by Age

There’s no one organization checking banks and retirement savings accounts for balances. But the Federal Reserve does routinely survey Americans about their financial habits. This helps to get an idea of the average retirement savings by age.

Under Age 35

It’s probably no surprise that the age group with the least money set aside for retirement is the youngest. Retirement seems like a faraway fantasy when you’re launching your career. At that age, you’re more likely to be saving to buy a house or preparing to start a family.

Those between the ages of 18 and 29 are by far the largest group with no retirement savings at all. Of respondents, 42 percent stated that they believed their retirement savings was on track. “On track” was defined as $10,000 or more by respondents, making it likely the average retirement savings among that group is lower than $10,000. However, the survey lumped those who are 30 and up with the 30 to 44 age group, and that group is much more proactive than their twenty-something counterparts.

Ages 35 to 44

If you’re going to look at retirement savings by age, you’ll probably notice the curve starts to sharply tick upward around the age of 35. By your mid-thirties, you’re already settled into your career and your household is probably established. It’s then time to start thinking about the day you’ll leave the workforce.

According to Federal Reserve data, among the 30 to 44 age group, 35 percent see their retirement savings as on track. But the most interesting thing in this savings by age data is that this age group defines “on track” as $100,000 or more. The 18 to 29 group defined it as only $10,000 or more.

Ages 45 to 54

When you look at average American retirement savings, you probably expect to see the number tick up significantly by the age of 45. By then, you’re looking at only a couple of decades until retirement, so if you haven’t started saving, you’re more likely to start scrambling to do so.

The data supports this. The Federal Reserve survey found that from 45 to 59, 42 percent of respondents were on track with their retirement savings, defining on track as $250,000 or more. This is $150,000 more than the 30 to 44 age group stated.

Ages 55 to 64

The Federal Reserve survey made the age cutoff 59 for the previous group. However, they do have a retirement savings confidence rating for the 60-plus age group. In the survey, 45 percent of respondents age 60 and over said they are confident that they have enough savings to retire. \The average American savings by age starts to naturally increase in this age group since retirement is just around the corner. In the survey, 80 percent of respondents ages 50 and up said they were confident in their retirement savings, giving a figure of $500,000 and up.

Ages 65 to 74

By age 65, you’ll either be considering retiring at some point in the future or already enjoying the savings. If you have the average savings of $500,000 or more set aside, it’s important to set a budget. But you’ll likely also have Social Security income in retirement to supplement it.

How Much Savings is Right for You?

Although looking at the median retirement savings can be helpful, it isn’t necessarily the amount you’ll need. What’s right for you depends on your expected expenses in retirement.

First, it’s important to take a look at how much Social Security you’ll receive. You can check this using the Social Security Administration’s benefits calculator. As long as we’re looking at the average US retirement savings, we may as well pay attention to the average Social Security check. In June 2020, it was $1,514 a month, which is $18,168 annually.

You’ll also need to calculate what your typical monthly expenses will be in retirement. You can use that information to see how much money you’ll need to supplement your Social Security benefit. Be sure to factor in your likely life expectancy to determine how much money you’ll need overall to stretch from the day you retire until the day you die.

Final Thoughts

If you go strictly by the recommended retirement savings by age, you’ll need to be at $100,000 and up by the time you reach age 35. But that amount varies from one person to another. We recommend working with a Certified Financial Planner® to determine how much you’ll need and map out a course to get there.

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Author

Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a writer for a credit card processing service and has written about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Money Under 30, The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, E-commerce Insiders, and GoBankingRates.

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