Skip to main content

No, you don't need to save double your salary for retirement by the time you're 35

The Tip Jar is BMTN editor Adam Uren's column on how to spend, save, and live with confidence.

A story by MarketWatch gained a bit of steam this month when attention turned to one of the claims in it from retirement expert Fidelity Investments.

"By 35, you should have twice your salary" saved for retirement, Fidelity said in the piece.

So, if you're a 35 year old in Minnesota earning $40,000, yep, you should already have $80,000 squirreled away in retirement accounts.

Before I moved to Minnesota, I was finance reporter in London covering the British pensions market, and was regaled daily with proclamations of what the golden number is for retirement saving from various financial firms.

They would propose differing sums and methods, sometimes slightly tweaked from the same release they'd put out the year before – it's almost like they wanted to grab headlines that encourage people to invest more in retirement products, for some reason.

Today's Top Stories

– The latest on Brian Dozier's future with the Twins.

– Father, 4-year-old son die in northern Minnesota kayaking tragedy.

– NEW: You can now follow Bring Me The News on Flipboard.

Stateside, I thought the consensus was that you should have saved your annual salary by 35, but I must have missed the goal post-shifting memo from Fidelity.

The company says you now need to have saved the equivalent of your annual salary by the time you're 30, but by 35 you need twice that.

It prompted predictable responses from millennials on social media.

Well look, I'm not a retirement adviser earning seven figures a year (sadly) to tell people they should be saving more, but I like to think I have a knack for common sense when it comes to money.

Which is why I'll tell you that, in my opinion, the answer to the age-old question "How much do I need to save for retirement?" is as follows:

Save as much as you can afford.

Estimations like Fidelity's come across as tone-deaf because they rely on figures alone.

Don't get me wrong – if you can save twice your salary then that's fantastic and well done you. But the target doesn't take into account the financial pressures people are living under.

Take Greater Minnesota, for example, those in their 20s and 30s have to deal with lower monthly incomes than those living in the metro, while those in the Twin Cities are increasingly having to fork out a significant chunk of their monthly incomes to find a place to live.

Wage rises aren't exactly shooting into the stratosphere right now, all the while the cost of living continues to surge (St. Paul, for example, had one of the nation's highest non-housing cost of living rises in 2017).

By the time you're 35 there's also a decent chance you'll have one or more kids of your own – good luck saving twice your salary once that happens.

Where Fidelity is absolutely correct is that you need to start saving early. Take advantage of your company's pre-tax 401(k) program and make sure you max out your employer's contributions, sign up for an IRA and squirrel away whatever you have left over.

The benefits of compound interest on investment income get increasingly larger the older you get, so the earlier start the more chance you have of saving a significant chunk that will see you through retirement.

You can check out my previous column on the benefits of 401(k)s here.

Every dollar you put away now will help you when you come to retire – just don't fret if you haven't banked double your salary yet, lord knows I haven't!

The Tip Jar is BMTN editor Adam Uren's column on how to spend, save, and live with confidence. Read past columns here.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Protest for Tyre Nichols to be held outside MN Governor’s Mansion

Activists groups say they’ll call on Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature to implement police reforms.


Minnesota pool contractor banned from industry, must pay $2 million-plus

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed suit against Charles Workman and his company, MN Crete Pools, LLC, in August.

Minneapolis police

St. Paul man identified as victim of north Minneapolis homicide

The shooting occurred on the 2200 block of Emerson Avenue North on Wednesday.


Two youths seriously injured after being struck by driver in Bloomington

Police say the boy is in a critical condition, while the girl has severe injuries.

Rosedale Center

Two men sentenced for carjacking in Rosedale Center parking lot

Leon Kismit Bell, 49, and Jack Mitchell Piche, 23, were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Jan. 20.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 3.59.30 PM

Police identify White Bear Lake officer shot while serving warrant

The officer is a six-year veteran of the department.

abortion, planned parenthood

Minnesota Senate passes bill codifying abortion into state law

Having already passed in the House, it will now be sent to Gov. Tim Walz for signing into law.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."


The Tip Jar: How much money can you save giving up your car commute?

We had a race – car vs. bike vs. bus – to see whether it's worth your time giving up your car.

6 ways to save money on your Christmas decorating

It's the time of year when everyone is decking their halls.

How much can you save by making your coffee at home instead of buying from a chain?

I found it surprisingly easy – and far cheaper than Starbucks and Caribou.

How to hold a successful Minnesota garage sale

It's yard sale season – here's how to make the most of it.

Employers could soon start helping you pay off your student debts

A new program allows companies to help employees with student loans.

Twin Cities workers are pretty happy with their salaries

The metro area was 2nd on a list of U.S. cities with the highest pay satisfaction.

The Tip Jar: How I'm using an app to save and invest money

It's helping me set aside a few extra bucks every week.