Under 30? What Retirement Will Look Like If You Put Off Saving


startingearlynesteggThese days, turning 30 doesn’t sound quite as grown up as it once did.

And that has a lot to do with the fact that 20-somethings are finding it hard to launch into financial adulthood.

According to a 2014 Gallup poll, about a third of adults under the age of 35 still live with their parents, in part because they are unemployed or underemployed.

Furthermore, a well-known Georgetown University study that looked at three decades of census data discovered that, in 2012, young workers didn’t earn the country’s median wage—often considered a benchmark for financial independence—until age 30, up from age 26 in 1980.

The domino effect of all this is that not only do such milestones as starting a family and buying a home get put on the back burner, but people often don’t start saving for retirement until their 30s—if that.

And that’s unfortunate, because the earlier you start that nest egg, the less you’ll need to deprive yourself in your later years when you have to play catch-up. Plus, the longer you put off saving, the less likely you’ll be able to achieve the lifestyle you truly desire in retirement.

Take it from those who would know: In a 2015 HSBC survey, 38% of the world’s retirees said that those who put off planning for retirement until after age 30 have waited too long.

Moreover, 65% of those polled who didn’t prepare adequately enough for a comfortable retirement said that they didn’t realize it until after they were fully retired.

The good news? If you’re in the 30-and-under camp, you can benefit from their twenty-twenty hindsight.

“For someone in their 30s, I’d say, just start the habit of saving,” says Skip Fleming, a CFP® with Lodestar Financial Planning in Colorado Springs, Colo. “At some point later on in life, you’re going to look back and wished that you had [saved more].”

RELATED: 6 Common Retirement Savings Mistakes to Avoid

  • http://www.lbeeandthemoneytree.com/ Lauren Bee

    Well this was slightly terrifying. But good information to know. I calculated up how much I should have by 30, and I have a lot of catch up work to do! http://www.lbeeandthemoneytree.com/much-save-retirement/

    • erica o

      Me too :-(

  • Bunny

    15% into retirement is so unrealistic though! If I did that, I’d barely have enough to live on after I pay my bills. And forget about that emergency fund Learnvest is always telling me to build up.

  • Longtime Homie

    Good lord. What a bleak fantasy. I’m 38 and have dipped into my 401k many many times. Maybe something unusual will happen…

  • matt wilkinson

    We’ve been saving since our early twenties for retirement. We’ve committed to living a life debt free (paying as much as we can on the mortgage now), and we also have a healthy emergency fund. Yes, it takes sacrifice, something not a lot of people are willing to do. But as Mr. Buffet says, “when the tide goes out, you can see whose skinny dipping.” If you’re having problems making traction, check out “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. That book changed our financial life.

  • AM

    These scenarios always discourage me because my husband and I didn’t start saving for retirement until our late 20s/early 30s. He got a PhD so he didn’t join the workforce until he was 28. I graduated into the recession (class of ’08, baby) and didn’t have consistent income until I, too, was in my late 20s. Fortunately, now in our early-mid 30s, we are playing catch-up. Contributing 10% of our paychecks each month and hoping to raise that number.