Retirement Savings by Age: How Do You Compare?

Laura Shin

women of different ages standing in a rowYou asked us how much, according to a nationwide survey by LearnVest and Chase Blueprint conducted in 2012, people had saved in their retirement accounts by age, and we have figures showing that, too!

We asked survey respondents how much they had saved in traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), Roth IRAs, 401(k)s and pensions. (Wondering which account might be right for you? Check out this flow chart.) As you would expect, the older people get, the more they have saved. All the figures below apply only to women. (Find out why saving for retirement can be more difficult for women.)

Ages 25-32

In this age group, savings was greatly clustered toward the lower ranges: 72% of all respondents 25-32 had $49,999 or less saved for retirement. The median amount saved in this age group was $12,000.

Retirement savings of $5,000 or less was the most popular answer, with 26% of women in this age group in this bucket. Other than that, this age group was pretty evenly spread out in terms of savings up to $50,000:

  • 15% had $5,000-$9,999 saved
  • another 15% had $10,000 to $24,999 saved
  • and 16% had $25,000-$49,999 saved

But still, sizable minorities had even more saved, with 7% having retirement savings in the $50,000 and $99,999 range, and 8% in the $100,000 and $249,999 range. The remaining 12% did not know how much they had saved or preferred not to say.

RELATED: How to Set Up a Retirement Account

Ages 33-44

This age group tended to have savings in the middle ranges, with 62% of respondents in this age group having savings of between $10,000 and $249,999. The media amount saved was $61,000.

  • The greatest plurality of respondents in this age group (17%) had $50,000 to $99,999 saved, and the second-highest retirement savings range was $10,000 to $24,999 saved, with 15% of this age group coming in there.
  • Respondents of this age range were unlikely to have low savings–just 6% had less than $5,000 saved, and only 7% had $5,000-$9,999 saved.
  • And a decent chunk–15%–had between a quarter million and half a million dollars saved, with 1% even having more than a million dollars saved.

However, 17% did not know how much they had or preferred not to say.

RELATED: Retirement, Savings or Debt? How to Prioritize Your Financial Goals

Ages 45-54

Among 45- to 54-year-olds, the greatest percentage (56%) had savings of between $25,000 and $499,999. The median amount saved in this age range was $101,000.

  • A full fifth of respondents in this age group had $100,000 to $249,999 dollars saved for retirement, making this the top answer for people of these ages.
  • But, unfortunately, a slightly smaller percentage had more than half a million saved than in the 33-44 age group: 6% in this age group have over half a million dollars while 8% in the lower age group have that much.
  • Also, 15% still have savings of $24,999 or less, which indicates they need to focus heavily on saving until they retire.

Almost a quarter (23%) said they did not know or preferred to not reveal how much they have in retirement.

RELATED: What We Can Learn From Would-Be Retirees

Want to dissect the results for yourself? Check out our chart.


LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial adviser for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third-parties listed, discussed, identified or otherwise appearing herein are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies. The research by LearnVest and Chase Blueprint was collected online via a 27-minute interview between July 23 and August 3, 2012. The 1,103 interviews completed among a representative sample of U.S. adults ages 25-54 were recruited from a panel consisting of several million U.S. households.

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  • Frostmd

    I’d still like to see these age ranges broken down further

  • Gamingcentral

    I know this is only taken from a sample of 1300 participants, but I find this incredibly hard to believe that this is representative of the population of the U.S. as a whole.  This has to be a sample of the wealthy to begin with.   To say that at least 9% of women between 25-32 have at least $100k saved in their retirement accounts, and over 6% of women ages 45-54 has at least 500k already saved, doesn’t match to national studies of income, net worth or even other polls taken of retirement amounts.  

    I’m not saying this poll is flawed, but i just don’t think it’s representative of the U.S. women’s population.  

    • Mya P.

      I agree.. It’s a bit hard to believe. Anyways…

      This is the advice I’m currently following to get the most out of my retirement savings

      1) Pay off your debts as fast as you possibly can. If this means living in a crappy studio apartment and eating ramen everyday for a couple of years, do it. If you want to buy a car, get a reliable beater. Get insurance for $25/month from 4AutoInsuranceQuote. Forget about buying a house until your debts are paid off.

      2) Once you are out of debt, stay out of debt. The only exception to this rule is a vehicle and a house. If you want to get a nicer car, buy used and be able to pay it off in a year or 2.

      3) If you are going to stay in the same spot for at least 10 years, buy a house, preferably with at least a little bit of usable land. An acre is good, 5 acres is better. Take the amount you are pre-approved for and cut it in half – that’s how much you should spend on a house. Come to the table with at least 20% down and make a couple of extra mortgage payments every year. If you’re going to be transferred or relocate every 5 years, forget about buying a house and rent instead.

      4) Develop multiple revenue streams. Do contract work. Start a business on the side. Invest in a business as a silent partner. Build websites. Buy and sell antiques. Acquire rental property. Sell something that generates residual income. Learn to play the currency markets or trade stocks. Do whatever you can to generate income from multiple sources.

      5) Grow these multiple revenue streams to the point that they generate enough consistent and reliable cash flow to replace your current income.

      6) Make as much as you can. Save as much as you can. Give away as much as you can.

      7) Retire!- the sooner, the better. Be sure you understand that “retirement” doesn’t necessarily mean you stop working, it just means having the freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

      Don’t be foolish and fall into the trap of trying to measure your wealth by the value of your assets. Markets change. Valuations fluctuate. Instead, measure your wealth by the amount of cash flow your assets consistently generate.

  • PAi

    Interesting article, thank you for sharing the results.

    Did the survey include any indication of whether or not
    respondents felt that their retirement savings was enough or on track for the retirement that they want?

    Thank you,

    Quinn – Years of Retirement Advocate

    • laurashin

      Hi Quinn,

      We didn’t ask a question with that specific wording, but we did ask people about their preferred vs. projected retirement age. Preferred was 60, projected was 65, and there wasn’t a lot of variation between age groups, incomes or gender.

      Hope that helps!

      • PAi

         Hi Laura,

        Thanks for the follow up. Interesting to see the consistency in the preferred vs. projected retirement age.

        Quinn – Years of Retirement Advocate

        • laurashin

          Hi PAi,

          Here you go:

          Women 25-32, 59 vs. 65Women 33-44, 60 vs. 65
          Women 45-54, 62 vs. 66

          Men, all ages: 61 vs. 65

          Households making $75K or less, 60 vs. 66
          Hh making $75K-$100K, 61 vs. 66
          Hh $100K+, 60 vs. 64

          Hope this helps.


  • Gary Simms

    The real question is how much do you need to have saved for retirement?

    Then you work backward to see how much you should be saving each month/year to acheive that goal.

    Personal savings are just 1/3 of the pie with pensions and Social Security being the other ingredients. With pensions being replaced with 401K’s, people comingling their 401K and personal savings, and the forthcoming restructuring of SS, individuals must really tackle retirement planning earlier than ever before.

    With investing it’s time not timing that creates wealth and then retirement security.

  • Defender60

    You are not taking into acount whether they have a job with retirement benefits or not.  If a govt employees or military retires on 50% pay + COLAs they don’t need as much as a self employed or worker with no retirement benefits.  HUGE HUGE difference.

    • jiminiowa

      I could not agree more on this statement and is the biggest difference between those of us that have a pension plan like military folks(makes me wish I went that route) versus those of us that only have savings, 401k and investments like real estate(which I have 300k in).

  • Crrobot

    Answer is easy, the day you start work out of school, is the day
    you start saving. It will become a habit you will increase over the
    years and come out in the higher plus columns seen here. If you
    are one of the procrastinators you will end up like so many on
    the rolls of entitlement programs Federal, State, County and Churches. Take my word for it…it stinks!  I have relatives
    that chose the later and they are without a car, home, can’t
    even afford a dinner out once a month at McDonalds.

    That fancy suit or dinner dress may look like heaven now,
    but where will it be in 25 years. New car, why, when a certified
    year or two old, will have a better warranty and maybe on some models half the price. Don’t buy a new car every 3 years…get 10 to 12 years use out of it. Keeping up with the Jones’ is like digging your own bottomless pit!

    • Joshua Miller

      Heh, always heard the term of the Jones’ but always knew it was a pitfall since it was coined in the 50′s(or somewhere before my time in the 90′s)…a pointless pursuit…but I’m 19(going on 20 this year) and already starting this saving up(since I will be looking at taking some advantage of my works retirement account(Harris Teeter) and even a personal IRA through my bank. I may be a procrastinator sometimes, but I’m starting while in school and trying to max out at 25 hours a week(or more during Christmas season/other big weeks/events). I may be my dads look a like but our financials at 20 or 21 won’t be anywhere near the same…and I definitely won’t end up on a government program if I have anything to say about it!

  • Coast

    Without a doubt this does not agree with middle class income. Show what type work they did and how much money they made each year starting at age 30 to 60 yrs. old. What if a family of 4 had a combined income of $70,000 or $80,000 a year they are 30 years old. With house & car payment, car & house ins.,med, life, school about how much could they save for the next 20 years?? Ret. but good ins and ret income.. There are a lot of families that cannot save a lot. Yes they will work until 65..

    • testpilot

      Who do you want to compare yourself to?
      The survey does suggest that the participant is a working professional. According to the census, the employment base of the U.S. is 100 million, less than one third of the population. It would be meaningless to dilute the results with the millions of underemployed or uneducated Americans.

      Take advantage of investing “pre-tax” dollars in 401k and the company matches. These consistently grow to $40k in the first 5 years of employment.

      If you’ve over-extended on a mortgage, hopefully you stay with the investment and grow it into a retirement nest egg of $500k or more in 20 years.

      Your car payment should have been one of your lowest monthly expenses if you were concerned about investing and retirement.

  • Ratburger

    lets see I’m 35, not married, no brat kids, no debts, saving 40% of my income…..already I have $1.5 million saved and I only really need 750k when I retire so if I keep doing what I am doing I can retire at 50 with $3 million and live a quiet life.

    • Timmy

      With no one to love or no one to share your retirement year with….enjoy….

    • Quint

      NICE! Keep at it, and think of all of us schumcks working 9-5 when you’re travelling the world

    • jiminiowa

      you have done a lot right in your life for sure rat, but as someone else says, who do you have to share it with? If you enjoy that much, then you are doing great!

      • thebigkahuna

        In my experience, people that feel they need to tell you exactly how wealthy they are, typically aren’t.

    • Mike

      Ahhh..a fine example of the love of money. I’ve seen a few of these types in my life. When they reach their early retirement with their excess cash, it doesn’t replace the life they COULD have had if they decided to raise a family, but you live and learn…sometimes too late.

      • Bob Berto

        Exactly!!!!!! Life is for living not hoarding!!! What is the use of saying at age 70 that you have $500K in the bank when you have maybe 5 years left and you didnt do a darned thing for fun your whole life!!! Like having a boat or a plane or fun toys to use and enjoy with yourself for friends!!!!! I know so may of these people that hoard money and Do NOTHING every day and when it comes time to but something they buy the cheapest version and try to make sure nobody makes a profit on the transaction…..Hoarding is a sin!!!

    • baobabs

      Yes but you’re still a rat…

    • Jose Perez

      what type of workdoyou do?

    • oxide23

      This is also the same model I am doing. I live small and I don’t have a lot of things that other people think are important. No smart phone, cheap efficient car, very small home, no cable TV “bundle”, eat in all the time, no $1.60 coffees at the local coffee shop, no fancy vacations. I make a lot of stuff, use my bicycle to get around whenever possible. DIY carpentry, plumbing, solar panels, extra insulation…sell some honey from my bees…it’s adding up to good savings. Married with a 2 year old who already has a 529.
      I’ll be retired by 52. All it takes is discipline, but you have to start early, which I did. Save big, live small, retire early. Good luck everyone.

  • Corey Slockbower

    If you invested during the 2007 market downcycle and sold off these stocks several years ago you would be in great shape.

    • baobabs

      Great in hindsight, but it takes balls of iron to do that with your hard earned money at the time.

  • SavvyElrod

    Wonder how many earned the savings and how many inherited some of their savings..

    • baobabs

      Doesn’t matter – money is money. So long as you didn’t kill someone or rob a bank for it.

  • Joshua Miller

    I definitely fall below the 5k but I’m only technically 20 so I have 5 years to change that…Plus with the fact I’ll have a little extra I can possibly put away during the summer I will probably open up a personal ira with my bank. Though to be honest I might need to contact my cpa Chris and ask the differences(I will probably trade up to the 5 year or something like that once I get my credit card payed off next month and save up enough to do it). I’d hope with the 1.5% interest I could make it to 5k by 25 or even a little higher. Wonder though what my safe amount to wait for until starting a ira would be to sock into it as a first deposit…

    • Michael Quirk

      Rat burger, you done blowing smoke up everyone’s ass?

      • Joshua Miller

        You done being a self-righteous jerk? You have no right to talk to me that way…guess your momma didn’t raise you right

    • Quint

      good for you for wanting to invest early, the smartest thing you can do is stash 10% of every paycheck into savings, no matter how big or small your paycheck is.

      Open a roth IRA fund that is post tax and let that be your ‘liquid savings’ because there is no withdrawal penalty and the interest you get is way more than 1.5%
      Also open a mutual fund, look at vanguard or fidelity for these funds, fortune 500 and S&P will return 6-9%, and let this be a retirement fund since you have to pay capital gains tax on withdrawals

      • Joshua Miller

        Yeah, I’m just more worried about getting rid of my credit card(which won’t fully happen until after i’ve paid off enough to do the maintenance on my car and then no more spending on it if i can help it). I especially have to do that because the maintenance is long over do and I’m pretty sure it’s costing me more on gas the longer it waits. Hope the profit-sharing check I’ll get from work will help. But dang I’m glad I actually came and read the comment on here. For some odd reason the email notification i got said 1% instead of 10% o_O But if 10% is recommended for savings how much is recommended for the other ones? (especially because soon I might be going up in hours if i can get full time and want to make sure I’m doing this right so by 25 or even 30 i’m sitting a little more comfortably with my money to make sure i’m on the right track…

        • Quint

          the 10% is a rule of thumb, just write it off as a tax or something. It’s to get into the habit of contributing every paycheck, and of course that is after you pay off your credit card. Does your card have any advantages, like points or miles? We have one that gives cash back and use it for monthly purchases (gas, food, some utilities) and pay it off every month. At the end of the year we’ll have a grand or 2 in bonuses.

          Good luck!

  • Wild Bill

    Do not scrimp and save, sacrifice immediate gratification, or forgo those $4 Starbucks just for your retirement. For if you do, you spend your entire retirement years trying to stop Democrats from stealing it all, just to give it all away to freeloaders for votes!

  • Bubba

    I’m doomed….. :-(

  • baobabs

    Well this comparison makes me look filthy rich. A 32 yr old with more than double the median retirement funds of an American 50 year old. Of course… I’m Australian, and here we have 9.5% of our salary paid into a compulsory retirement fund.

    I’m sure if Americans ever started comparing their healthcare, working conditions, and retirement funding to the rest of the developed world — they’d be rioting in the streets.

  • VoteYES

    Why is the age range 55-64 left out? That’s when people are actually retiring so it would seem important to include them.

    • Quint

      you’re right, and where are the 8-16 year olds also?

      • VoteYES

        :-P I’m referring to the most-relevant age (the one just prior to retirement and that shows people’s state as they retire and finish a lifetime of saving (or not saving)). It seems crazy to have left it out.

  • littleamb3

    We are 50 and 52 and have 530k right now for retirement and that is not enough. We live an extremely frugal lifestyle to save though.