Here's What Happens When You Start Saving for Retirement After 30

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Unless you started saving for retirement early in your career, typical retirement savings goals can be alarming. A popular Fidelity chart recommends having savings equal to your yearly income by age 30, twice your yearly income by 35, and three times that by 40.

It can definitely be stressful if you’re in your 30s and you haven’t saved for retirement yet. You might feel like you’re way behind and wonder if you’re going to be able to catch up to where you should be.

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This is an extremely common worry, so you’re not alone. And while it’s good to recognize the importance of saving for retirement, it shouldn’t be a source of stress. To help you avoid that, let’s look at what to expect when you start saving for retirement after 30. We’ll also go over how you can save most effectively, plus some helpful advice from financial coach and blogger Chloe Daniels.

You still have plenty of time to save for retirement

First things first, it’s not a big deal to start saving for retirement after 30. Daniels, who writes the Clo Bare Money Coach blog, says that “A lot of people don’t start until their 30s, and if you plan on retiring in your 60s, you still have plenty of time to let compound interest do the heavy lifting.”

Not saving for retirement until your 30s is normal. Plenty of people in their 20s don’t have much disposable income to save for retirement in the first place. As you get older, income generally increases, so it’s easier to save.

As Daniels mentioned, you’re also not exactly short on time here. Depending on your exact age and when you want to retire, you could have 25 to 35 years or more to invest. Let’s split the difference and say you have 30 years until retirement. If you invest $500 per month and earn 8% per year on that, you’d retire with $745,179.72.

Focus on how much you can save starting now

Lots of people wish they had started saving for retirement at a younger age. But it doesn’t do you any good to dwell on that. Instead of feeling down about something you can’t change, focus on what you can do now to build your retirement savings.

If you haven’t started a retirement fund yet, open one. Daniels says that a workplace plan, such as a 401(k), is “often the easiest place to get started because it’s automatic, the money comes out before you ever have the chance to spend it, and contributions happen on a regular basis.” Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are another good choice that you can use in addition to a workplace plan.

Once you have a retirement plan, make it a habit to contribute a portion of your income every month. A common option is to start by putting 10% of your income toward your retirement savings. Adjust that as needed to the amount that works best for you. If you have ample disposable income and you’d like to grow your retirement savings more quickly, you could opt for 15%, 20%, or more.

Invest so you can grow your money

Saving money for retirement is only half the battle. To get the most out of that money, you need to invest it.

Some people find investing intimidating, which is understandable. You’re putting your money on the line, and you certainly don’t want to lose it. Daniels advises that the key to getting over this is educating yourself on how investing works. She says that as you do that, “the fear and intimidation around investing will ease and eventually disappear altogether.”

Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to learn about investing. Daniels recommends looking for educational tools that fit how you like to learn. For example, if you’re a visual learner, you could check out investing videos on YouTube. If you’re an auditory learner, investing podcasts may work well for you.

You can invest money through your retirement accounts and any brokerage accounts you have with stock brokers. To do so, you choose investments you like and start putting your money in them. A few popular ways to invest for retirement include:

Even if you feel as if you’re late to the party on saving for retirement, remember that it’s better to start late than to not start at all. You’ll still be able to build a nest egg, and that will be a big help once you’re ready to retire.


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