As a part of the Visualize Retirement program, Conversation Starters are an ongoing series of easy-to-digest articles designed to demystify the nonfinancial side of retirement. Stay in front of the conversation with fresh, relevant insights based on research into actual retiree behaviors.
Retirement planning can be intimidating at any age—especially early in your career. That’s why a lot of financial firms publish savings benchmarks that show the ideal levels of savings at different ages. A savings benchmark isn’t a replacement for comprehensive planning, but it is a quick way to gauge whether you’re on track to achieve your retirement savings goals.
The chart below shows the savings benchmark by age, relative to income. A range is provided for each benchmark because Social Security benefits replace more income for lower-income workers than they do for higher-income workers. As a result, lower-income workers generally need fewer assets than an “average” benchmark, while higherincome workers need more.
For example, a 45-year-old earning $80,000 would be on track if they have already saved about $200,000 to $320,000. Having two-and-a-half to four times income saved for retirement by age 45 is an attainable goal if they started saving at age 25.
SAVINGS BENCHMARKS BY AGE—AS A MULTIPLE OF INCOME
See Additional Disclosures at the bottom of page 2.
As you get closer to retirement, you need a more precise estimate.
The savings benchmark ranges get wider as you approach retirement—when it’s even more important to get an accurate estimate. So the chart below provides more detailed estimates to help people age 55 and older find a realistic target based not only on age, but on income and marital status as well. These factors affect how much preretirement income Social Security will replace and, therefore, how much of your own assets you will need.
For example, the center box shows that a married, sole-earner 60-year-old with a current household income of $150,000 should have about eight times their income—or $1,200,000—saved for retirement at their current age.
A CLOSER LOOK AT SAVINGS BENCHMARKS LATER IN YOUR CAREER
See Additional Disclosures at the bottom of page 2. “Dual income” means that one spouse generates 75% of the income that the other spouse earns.
Savings benchmarks can give you a sense of whether or not you are on track to have enough saved by age 65. If you’re not on track, don’t despair. Small savings increases can make a big difference over time. Here’s how you can start preparing for the future you want:
- Divide your total household retirement savings by your household income.
- Find out where you are on the Savings Benchmarks chart. Use the A Closer Look table if you're age 55 or older.
- Talk to your financial professional about how you can get and/or stay on track.
Benchmarks are based on a target multiple at retirement age and a savingstrajectory over time consistent with that target and the savings rate needed to achieve it. Household income grows at 5% until age 45 and 3% (the assumed inflation rate) thereafter. Investment returns before retirement are 7% before taxes, and savings grow tax-deferred. The person retires at age 65 and begins withdrawing 4% of assets (a rate intended to support steady inflation-adjusted spending over a 30-year retirement). Savings benchmark ranges are based on individuals or couples with current household income approximately between $75,000 and $250,000. Target multiples at retirement reflect estimated spending needs in retirement (including a 5% reduction from preretirement levels); Social Security benefits (using the SSA.gov Quick Calculator, assuming claiming at full retirement ages, and the Social Security Administration’s assumed earnings history pattern); state taxes (4% of income, excluding Social Security benefits); and federal taxes. We assume the household starts saving 6% at age 25 and increases the savings rate by 1% annually until reaching the necessary savings rate. Benchmark ranges reflect the higher amounts calculated using federal tax rates as of January 1, 2020, or the tax rates as scheduled to revert to pre-2018 levels after 2025. Inflation adjustments to brackets effective in 2021 do not significantly affect the analysis and, therefore, are not reflected.
This material has been prepared for general and educational purposes only. This material does not provide recommendations concerning investments, investment strategies, or account types. It is not individualized to the needs of any specific investor and is not intended to suggest that any particular investment action is appropriate for you, nor is it intended to serve as the primary basis for investment decision-making. Any tax-related discussion contained in this material, including any attachments/links, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding any tax penalties or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to any other party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please consult your independent legal counsel and/or tax professional regarding any legal or tax issues raised in this material.
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