I’m 30 and I Haven’t Started Funding My IRA. Is My Retirement in Trouble?

There’s no need to panic if you haven’t saved anything for retirement by your 30th birthday.

Key points

  • It’s a good idea to start saving for retirement at a young age.
  • If you’re only 30 and haven’t gotten started yet, there’s plenty of time to catch up.
  • Consider setting up an automatic transfer of money from your checking account to your IRA, to make the process easier.

You should expect to need retirement savings once your career comes to an end. Without personal savings, you might struggle to cover your living costs based on what Social Security pays you.

It’s a good idea to start funding your IRA account from a young age. The sooner you start saving and investing money for retirement, the more your money is apt to grow.

But it’s not uncommon to reach the age of 30 without having money in an IRA. Maybe you spent the bulk of your 20s paying off credit card debt. Or maybe you had to focus on building emergency savings so you’d have money to tap for near-term bills that pop up out of the blue.

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Either way, if you don’t have money in an IRA by age 30, it’s not an ideal situation, but it’s also not a dire one. The key, however, is to start to catch up as soon as you can.

How much retirement savings should you have by age 30?

Fidelity says that it’s good to have the equivalent of your annual salary saved up by age 30. So if you’re currently earning $60,000 a year, that’s the amount you’d ideally want in your IRA.

If your current balance is $0, well, that’s a pretty far cry from $60,000. But do try to remember that if you’re only 30, it means you probably have another 30 years in the workforce ahead of you at least. And that gives you plenty of opportunity to fund your IRA and build wealth.

In fact, let’s say you were to start saving $250 a month in your IRA tomorrow, and that you continue to do so for 30 years. If your IRA delivers an 8% average annual return during that time, which is a bit below the stock market’s average, as measured by the S&P 500 index, that will leave you with a nest egg worth around $340,000.

And that assumes you’re only saving until the age of 60. Many people work into their mid-60s, late 60, or 70s. So if we increase your savings window from 30 years to 35 years, it means you might retire with around $517,000, assuming those same monthly $250 contributions and 8% average yearly return.

It pays to put the process on autopilot

If you’ve reached the age of 30 without any money in your IRA, it’s good to start carving out room for retirement plan contributions as soon as you can. Take a look at your expenses and see how much you can afford to put into your long-term savings each month. At the same time, consider setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your IRA so that money lands there directly each month.

If you set up an automatic transfer, that money will leave your bank account and hit your IRA before you have a chance to spend it. And that could help ensure that you get and stay on track.

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