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How much money should I have saved by 30?

Age-based saving goals can help keep your retirement savings on track, but they're guidelines only.

By age 30, you may have already begun to save for retirement. You’ve probably moved up in your career and are making more money than in your 20s. But you may also have new financial challenges like saving to buy a home, or maintaining one, and raising children. Here’s how much money you should have saved by 30 and what you can do to boost your savings today if you feel behind.

How much money should I have in savings at 30?

The average retirement savings for a millennial, in which a 30-year-old is included, is $91,191, according to Finder’s latest Consumer Confidence Index. But don’t worry if your savings fall short of this. Everyone has a different financial situation. And the Gen Y population spans the ages of 27 to 42 years old in 2023. A 30-year-old could be expected to have less saved then a 40-year-old in the same generation.

A retirement savings balance of $40,560 by age 30 might be more accurate according to a commonly-used savings guideline. Many financial experts recommend saving at least 15% of your annual income toward retirement starting at age 25. The median weekly earnings for someone between the ages of 25 and 30 is $1,040, or $54,080 a year ($1,040 X 52 approximate weeks in a year). A savings rate of 15%, then, amounts to $8,112 a year. Starting at age 25, that would put you at about $40,560 in retirement savings by age 30.

Age-based savings guidelines like this are meant to act as guideposts to let you quickly gauge whether you’re on track. Depending on the variables, your savings could be higher or lower. But if you feel behind, there are money moves you can make today to help you maximize your savings going forward.

5 ways to start saving money in your 30s

Saving money in your 30s, especially for retirement, can be challenging, considering you may have new financial obligations like saving money for a wedding, a house or an addition to the family. But here are some ways you can start saving money today so you’re prepared when you leave the workforce.

1. Invest in your 401(k) to get any company match

A primary route to increase your life savings is to take advantage of an employer 401(k) and company match. Not only are 401(k) contributions tax-advantaged, but any matching funds your employer puts up are essentially free money.

Contributions to your traditional 401(k) are deducted from your paycheck before federal and state income taxes are withheld. This means they can lower your taxable income for the year you contributed, which can decrease your tax bill or increase your tax refund.

Companies that make employee 401(k) contributions will typically match dollar-for-dollar what employees contribute up to a certain amount. Recent data by Fidelity Investments shows that more than 8 in 10 workers received some type of employer 401(K) contribution in the first quarter of 2023.

Let’s picture a scenario where you contribute 6% of your $60,000 salary to your 401(k). After the first year, you’ll have $3,600 saved in pre-tax income. However, let’s consider that your employer matches 100% up to 4% of your salary. In addition to the $3,600 you contributed, your employer will contribute $2,400 (4% X $60,000). Together, you’ll have $6,000 saved in your 401(K) account at the end of a year.

The average 401(k) balance for someone between the ages of 25 and 34 is $37,211.

2. Max out an IRA

Whether or not your employer offers a 401(k), spur your retirement savings by contributing and, if you can, maxing out a traditional IRA or Roth IRA.

IRAs offer similar tax benefits to 401(k)s. Traditional IRA contributions may be tax-deductible, while Roth IRAs offer tax-free withdrawals in retirement.

The 2023 contribution limit for an IRA is $6,500 for those under 50 and $7,500 for those 50 and over. This is the total you can contribute across all your IRAs.

Today’s IRA savers can also access an additional perk: an IRA match.

Robinhood offers IRA matches. Robinhood will match up to 3% on IRA contributions when you subscribe to Robinhood Gold or 1% when you don’t. IRA transfers and 401(k) rollovers also earn 1% with Robinhood.

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3. Build wealth through the stock market

If you’re 30 and plan to retire at 65, you’ve got some time to accumulate wealth, and stocks offer some of the greatest potential for growth over the long term. The average historical return on the stock market is about 10%.

There are many ways to invest in the stock market. Here are a few securities you can purchase:

  • Individual stocks. These are shares of individual companies like Apple (AAPL), Tesla (TSLA) and Netflix (NFLX). You can buy stocks online during normal trading hours.
  • ETFs. An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is an investment fund that operates like a basket of stocks, giving you immediate exposure to numerous assets through a single purchase. ETFs can be actively managed or passively managed.
  • Mutual funds. Another type of investment fund, mutual funds pool money from individual investors to purchase stocks, bonds and other assets. Investors purchase shares in the fund, which may be actively or passively managed.
  • Target-date funds (TDFs). These are typically mutual funds designed around a target retirement date. A target date fund automatically shifts its asset allocation over time to make sure the portfolio becomes less risky as it approaches the target date.

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4. Save for health expenses in an HSA

If you have a high-deductible health insurance plan, you may pair it with a health savings account (HSA). An HSA offers tax benefits while helping you save for healthcare expenses.

Money you contribute toward an HSA is tax deductible, so it can lower your tax bill for the year you contributed. Earnings you get in an HSA account from interest or investment returns grow tax-free. And money you withdraw from an HSA is tax-free as long as you use it on qualified healthcare expenses.

5. Pay off high-interest debt

High-interest debt is a financial culprit that can eat into your savings. If you’re paying more on your debt than you’re earning by saving, you’re losing money.

Credit cards are among the most expensive debts. The average interest rate on a credit card is 21.19% as of August 2023, according to research by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. To compare, the average interest rate on personal loans is 12.17%.

Finder data shows the average credit card debt for millennials is $4,974.

Here are a couple of ways you can pay off high-interest debt today:

  • Personal loan. A personal loan can let you pay off costly credit cards or other high-interest debts in one lump sum. Personal loans also use fixed rates, compared to variable rate credit cards, which means you’ll continue to pay the same rate over the loan’s lifetime.
  • Balance transfer credit card. While credit cards use variable interest rates, a balance transfer card comes with a promotional period that charges no interest. A 0% APR period can last up to two years with some cards, giving you time to pay off your debt. But to make the most of a balance transfer card, you must pay off your debt within that period. Otherwise, interest charges will be added to the unpaid balance when the promotional period ends.

Bottom line

Hitting specific sayings goals by age 30 can be a challenge, considering you may have new financial obligations and are probably thinking more seriously about saving for retirement. But don’t fret. Time is still on your side, and any amount you save now can help. For more tips, check out our retirement resources to help you boost your retirement savings.

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