Life is full of ups and downs, many of which seem to involve money. If you’ve been hitting one financial hurdle after another, your savings attempts may feel futile.
If you’re getting older, you might be feeling concerned about the amount of savings you have behind you, and if you’re younger, you might be looking for a benchmark to hit.
Most people hope to have a certain nest egg of savings at 40. Are you on track for a comfortable retirement?
By the time we hit our 40s, society expects a lot from us. A thriving career, our own homes, a family…and many assume we’ll have a comfy savings cushion to fall back on, too.
Although these expectations are subjective (and honestly, not necessary), it’s wise to have a savings goal for your 40s… so what should it be?
How Much Should You Have In Your Savings At 40?
Okay, so you’re fast approaching your 40s, and retirement is getting closer. Everyone’s savings journeys are different, but by your 40s, you should aim to have a comfortable amount of cash in your savings.
If you’re looking for a solid guideline, many financial advisors recommend saving at least three times your salary by age 40.
Of course, this number will look different for everyone – if you’re earning 25k, that’s 75k by the time you’re 40. If you’re on 60k, that’s 180k by your 40s.
This guideline also assumes that you’ll retire by age 67 and maintain your current lifestyle. This retirement lifestyle usually requires at least 10x your income by the time you hit your retirement age.
However, it’s essential to be realistic. Although this is a recommended guideline, we’re all well aware that most 40-year-olds are on track to have far less by the time they retire.
With rising costs of living, rising inflation, and stagnant wages, such ambitious retirement goals can seem like a fairytale.
Saving For Retirement: What To Consider
If that guideline fills you with dread, you’re not alone. Let us say one thing: saving is better than not saving at all – even if it’s only a tiny amount.
Don’t be tempted to abandon saving for your future because you might not hit the guideline. Assess your current finances, and see what you can REALISTICALLY save.
We all have different goals, characteristics, and finances. These factors are going to shape your savings journey significantly. So, to help you save effectively for your future, there are a few things to consider.
For example, when do you want to stop working? Some people want to retire BEFORE the retirement age for several reasons.
Maybe they want to travel more; they have health concerns or other personal goals. If this is your ambition, it’d be wise to aim for the guideline above (if you can).
If you think you’ll be fine to work past your retirement age, and you can’t afford to put significant amounts of cash into your savings, you may be OK to save less – especially if you think you can afford to live on lower expenses in your retirement.
However, saving towards retirement is still possible, even with these extra expenses. Compound returns are the key – remember, the earlier you start saving, the more time you have to increase your savings.
So, even if you’re just starting out with a few extra bucks at the end of your paycheck, you’ll be making a wise move.
How Can I Save More Money?
We get it – talking about saving cash can be daunting, especially if you’re on a low income.
Savings recommendations can seem unattainable, and if you’re already facing financial hardship, it can feel insulting to be told to save significant amounts of cash.
However, even if you’re only able to save as little as $20 a month, you can still do a few things to maximize your savings and be on track to a comfortable retirement by the time you hit 40.
Let’s explore a few examples below:
401k accounts are a great way to save, but employer-sponsored accounts are even better.
Some employers can match your 401k contributions, or as an incentive to save, they can contribute a certain percentage of your salary.
If your employer offers this and you’re not taking advantage, you could miss out on a significant amount of cash for your retirement.
IRA Savings Plans
An individual retirement account (IRA) can help you reach your savings goals. Deciding to invest can depend on your retirement options and your financial situation.
However, if any of these apply to you, setting up an IRA may be good for you:
- Your Employer Doesn’t Offer a Retirement Plan: If you’re in this situation, an IRA may be one of the most effective ways for you to save money.
- You’re Eligible for a 401k: Even if you’re eligible for or already have a 401k, you can invest in an IRA to diversify your savings. In most cases, you can save more in an IRA than in a 401k.
- Your Spouse Doesn’t Work: You can put cash towards a spousal IRA with your own income – this will increase your savings.
Although IRAs are targeted more towards self-employed people without access to a 401k, an IRA can be opened by anyone through a bank, online brokerage, investment company, or personal broker.
If you struggle with saving, these accounts are a great option. You usually can’t withdraw any cash before the age of 59, and if you do, you’ll face a significant tax penalty to do so.
Although there are guidelines for how much you should have in your savings at 40, these aren’t attainable for everyone.
We all have different financial situations and life goals, so the key takeaway here is to save what you can and save wisely.
Choose accounts that limit you from withdrawing, accumulate the most interest, and if possible, see if your employer can match your contributions. Every little helps – even if the little is minuscule.