Save. Spend. Splurge.

How much should you have saved for retirement by age 30 – 35?

Taking into account that you probably had anywhere from $16,000 – $60,000 (*raises hand*) in student loans, having ANYTHING saved for retirement by the age of 30 would be a miracle.

Nevertheless, here are a few rules you can use to calculate how much you should have saved by ages 30 – 35.

By age 35, you should have saved an amount equal to your annual pay, or about $67,777.50

(Via Fidelity)

Seeing as the average household is about $58,179 by the time you are 25-34 and about $77,376 by the time you are 35 – 44, let’s say you should have about an average of $67,777.50 saved.

(Via NPR)

Strictly speaking, as a freelancer, I find this one hard to use because my average pay so far has been $75,000 a year, working 50% of the time, but there were some years where I worked more and made double.

I’d use about $75,000 as my average “pay” in this case.

Retirement savings versus Net Worth at ages 30 – 35

I suppose you can count retirement savings to be equal to net worth in this case, so let’s see how much you should have as a net worth by the time you’re 30 to 35:

Millionaire Next Door Calculation for Net Worth

FORMULA: (Age x Annual Pre-Tax Income) / 10

  • Age = 30
  • Annual Pre-Tax Income = $67,777.50 (using our number above)

Net Worth Calculation: ( 30 x $67,777.50 ) / 10 = $203,332.50


I like this one because it’s simple to do, but it is wholly unrealistic in light of today’s student debt.

Without my original $60,000 in student debt, I’d have easily hit those numbers.

Adjusted & Realistic MND Calculation for Net Worth

FORMULA: ((Age – 27) x Annual Pre-Tax Income) / 5

  • Age = 30
  • Annual Pre-Tax Income = $67,777.50 (using our number above)

Net Worth = ( ( 30 – 27 ) x $67,777.50 ) / 5

Net Worth = $40,666.50


I prefer this one over the original classic of the Millionaire Next Door chart because it takes into account student debt, of which I had $60,000 smackeroos of.

If you didn’t go to college however, the MND one is more realistic for you.

How much do you really need for retirement?

As you can see above, the jump is crazy from $40,666.50 to $203,332.50 at the age of 30, depending on what calculation you use.

I guess the main question is not so much how much you should have saved, but how much you have calculated that you need to have by the time you decide to retire.


  • How long do you think you might live? My one side of the family lives into their 90s.
  • When do you want to retire? At what age?
  • Will you have an employer retirement plan?
  • Will you have a government retirement plan?
  • How do you plan on retiring? Do you want to travel? Move to a small town? Stay in the city?
  • Are you saving alongside someone else who will contribute 50%? (I am.)
  • Are you planning on having kids? They cost money you know 🙂
  • How much do you think you might make over a lifetime as an income?
  • How much do you spend now? How much are you able to realistically save?

These are all very personal questions that only you can answer.

For me, my number is $1,000,000 by the time I’m 55. Should be able to reach it with the way I’m going, if not, sooner by the age of 45 if I can swing it.


  • Panda

    At age 30, I wouldn’t even THINK about investing in bonds or money market instruments. The only question is how much to keep in US stocks, and how much to keep in international stocks. If you’re skittish, invest only in stock index funds, preferably those that pay regular dividends. Then, reinvest those dividends.

    Invest automatically, invest consistently, and increase your contribution at least 1% per year, until you max out. If you get a nice promotion, invest even more.

  • Steven J Fromm

    Like the number crunching and while the two scenarios vary wildly the point of all this is to understand the power of early investing. The power of compounding is the point of all this. So invest as much as you can and as early as you can. Invest in a diversified portfolio of index and no load funds that invest in large, medium and small cap value and growth stock with some international exposure.

  • Douglas Wright

    Your blog subjects always catch my eye – particularly the ones related to retirement planning. I think your definition of Net Worth is skewed somewhat. Net worth is typically the value of your assets minus your liabilities (regardless of what those liabilities are). “NOBODY” can realistically project future net worth using a calculation or table. Especially if one is looking 10, 20, or 30 years down the line. Net Worth is a snapshot of where you are today. I also want to comment to your audience that retirement planning cannot be done with simple online calculators. No two of us live under that same circumstances.

    IMO, (Generally speaking) people show concern for their financial future but lack the discipline to follow through. I don’t think people give their future enough thought.

    Simply put – retimement planning begins with identifying the following in order:
    1) What life-style do I want to live?
    2) How much money (projecting inflation) will I need to live that lifestyle? Figure today’s expense to income ratio (I/E). If you’re happy with a 2:1 ratio (twice the income to expenses) then good. Keep that ratio in mind when when determining your future income requirements.
    3) What will be my income sources?
    4) How much will I need to draw from each of those income sources on an monthly/annual bases?
    5) How much do I need to have in those income sources to pull out what I projected in item#4 to meet my requirement of I/E (Item#2)
    6) What are my expenses now. What will they be in the future? (compound a liberal 3% for inflation)

    7) How much do I have to invest now to get to my end goal. I won’t go into Return-on-Interest here.

    This is a basic outline everyone should be looking at when determining their financial independence. You have to know where to want to be (FIRST), where you are now (SECOND), and then plan accordingly to reach your goal (LAST).
    To: Save, Spend, Splurge,
    I challenge you to research and write a blog discussing what retirement planning encompasses (big picture) highlighting major details.
    I enjoy your blog.
    I commend you for stimulating thought in your readers.
    If your goal is to educate, I think it would benefit your readers if you start with the overall picture and then dive deeper perhaps splitting your topics up into Part1, Part2, etc. in order of precedence. Feel free to contact me via the email address provided and I will provide you with something that details the line items above in practical use. Yes – its a spreadsheet.

    Thanks for allowing to me to comment.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      1. How very nice of you to say so, thank you!
      2. I am going to contact you and write a post on this, I think it’s great that you’ve spent the time to comment so thoroughly and I’d be happy to do your comment justice.

  • Cindy

    I’m glad you said the second one is better because the first one feel unattainable for me 🙁

  • SP

    I’m highly suspicious of round numbers like $1,000,000! You considered all of those things and computed 1 million? 😉

    I have never really bothered to do a retirement calculator, because I can’t deal with all of the assumptions that have to be made. For now,it is save as much as possible without it cramping my lifestyle too much. Because, why not? (If I made less money or had kids or something, I probably would cramp my lifestyle a bit more in order to save!) We’ve maxed our accounts for a few years now and I’ve always saved >10%.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      It was actually $800,000 that I calculated but I rounded up to be conservative 🙂 BF says we only need $500,000 each but that’s eating beans and rice (I am not interested).

      I think your approach is more sane than trying to reach a specific goal. My goal is really just to live half half.. as in half work, half play.. LOL!

  • Alicia

    I am on target for the adjusted 30 year old salary, around 40k. I think that is pretty good considering I graduated one year ago with 33k in debt. So… decent numbers. I definitely agree these rules need to be taken with a grain of salt.

  • Tim

    I agree that very general formulas are hard to use. Especially this one (MND) when you are on the young side of your career. On the other hand it also doesn’t include the freakish savers like myself, where I’m over the MND target by double if you use net worth. Then again most people don’t pay off their mortgage by age 34. I get that.

    I think you need to just define your own path and make some milestones to help keep things moving along. Not having any targets are more of a problem in the long run.


    • save. spend. splurge.

      It’s just nice having benchmarks to see how you’re progressing, then from there you can either feel motivated or discouraged, but either way at least you know where you stand. That’s my view, anyway.

  • Bridget

    haha I remember you did a similar post before (or maybe I’m just remembering the millionaire next door?) but according to the second formula my net worth can be super low… so glad I’m only 28 =p

  • AdinaJ

    We’re a little bit under the MND formula, but our calculation doesn’t include our home equity, which would put us well over. On the other hand, I don’t have a year’s pre-tax income in my RRSP. I think it’s closer to a year’s net income, though. Same for my husband. We have a large-ish chunk of our savings in TFSAs, which are not exclusively earmarked for our retirement …

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I throw everything into my net worth, whether it’s earmarked for retirement or not.

      You could always put your home’s valuation at the city value as part of your net worth. That’s what I plan on doing if I buy a condo.

  • jane savers @ solving the money puzzle

    I had nothing but debt at age 35 and now I am in my late 40s and I am just finally making progress in building wealth.

    I am like a lot of people who will accumulate the bulk of their wealth when the financial responsibilities of children and mortgages have passed. Unfortunately waiting so late limits the magic or compound interest.

  • moneystepper

    I remember reading millionaire next door’s calculation and being a long way off, and for the same reason as yourself.

    Currently, I am in between the two: over double your recalculation, but under half the MND original calculation.

    The calculation is extremely flawed as incomes increase greatly in this age bracket.

    For example, my starting wage when I was 23 was £20k per year. This stayed around this level until I was 26, when it increased to £35k and again when I was 28 to £50k.

    Therefore, at 28, my goal for net worth (according to MND) should be £140k. However, in my career, I have only ever earned £130k…

  • Well Heeled Blog

    I like the questions you listed. I think this calculate is also very dependent on your career though – an orthopedic surgeon who just came out of residency at 30 is probably at zero or negative net worth, but in a few years he/she will be able to save A LOT of money if he/she just watch out for lifestyle inflation, thanks to the sheer earning potential of that career path.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      @Well Heeled Blog: Which is why formulas don’t always work out the way we expect. We should definitely take into account our own career paths when determining what our Net worth should be… (e.g. not working = no money coming in = no money saved!)

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