For a comfortable retirement, the average working American needs to save at least $386,100, according to a new chart by Blacktower Financial Management Group.
To get there, a working adult earning the average national salary of $46,800 must start saving $8,775 a year from age 23 to age 67. Blacktower estimated that a person would need 75% of their starting salary per year in retirement.
But this goal may be hard to reach each year, especially at the beginning of your career, according to one financial expert. For instance, the average 20-24-year-old makes $31,460 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so they need to put away almost 28% of that to start.
“This isn’t what I’d consider to be normal,” said Brandon Renfro, assistant professor of finance at East Texas Baptist University. “It’s especially hard for someone in their young 20s to save 25% of their salary.”
How much do you need saved at each age?
By the time you’re 30, you should have at least $61,425 saved up in your retirement account, according to the chart. By the time you reach 40, you should have $149,175. And by 50, your nest egg should have at least $236,925 in it.
Young adults who start saving and investing early along with those who get a 401(k) match from their employer may be able to follow Blacktower’s chart. But this may be an aggressive goal for the rest of the population, Renfro said.
“I’ll say that savings rate is a bit high,” he said. “But if someone is putting 15% to 20% of their income in a 401(k) or 401(3)b, it’s absolutely far more likely with a match.”
Saving during the pandemic
The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic also is undermining many Americans’ ability to save. Nearly 15% of Americans had no job in April, and more than half of Americans are withdrawing from their retirement account — not contributing more — or considering the move.
Americans withdrew an average of $5,500 from their savings in April, or 60% of the targeted annual rate that Blacktower recommends. Coronavirus relief legislation relaxed rules on early withdrawals from 401(k) plans, so Americans facing financial difficulty during the COVID-19 outbreak have more options for sourcing cash.
But Renfro said you should withdraw only if you need to.
“In the event you have some type of contingency, maybe you should delay retirement by a year,” he said, “and take a 10% smaller annual distribution.”