It's Personal (6/8/2018)

A recent Marketwatch article claiming “you should have twice your salary saved by age 35” has angered many across the Internet. The article, which included advice from Fidelity Investments, said you should have the equivalent of a year’s salary saved by age 30, and double that by age 35.

While the above guidelines may be achievable for some, we are talking about “personal” finance. This means that we all come to the financial table with different ingredients. Salaries and occupations vary widely. Some may go right to work after high school while others attend college and graduate school. You may live at home to save money initially, or you could be working and living in a city with high rent or mortgage rates. You might have student loan or credit card debt, or perhaps you are blessed with none.

Marriage and families will be additional factors that will not be the same for everyone. Buying a home could be your focus. Unanticipated health problems might arise. Individual variables might make it unrealistic to consign exact amounts and timelines to your retirement. Variables including inheritances, life goals, and property purchases must all be considered. One size does not fit all when determining how much you will need to save to continue your present and future standard of living.

Depending on the situation, some could still be on track for retirement without having twice their salary saved by 35, while others would need more than that. The rate of return and level of risk you are willing to take with your savings will play a role.

The bottom line is that saving money is important. Setting up good habits sooner rather than later should prove to be helpful for your future. The earlier you start saving, the less you should have to save over time. If you have a 401(k) plan available to you, invest at least the minimum amount to receive the company match. If you do not, set up an IRA or Roth or general savings account and systematically invest each month. Automation has proven to work over will power. Don’t wait for your debt to be gone to start saving. The smallest amount will start your process and you can increase it as your lifestyle allows.

Setting benchmarks is key, but don’t beat yourself up for not meeting them. Check in with your plan and adjust as needed. Your personal goals for now and the future are the guidelines to follow.

Lisa A. Dugan

Posted June 8, 2018