There are numerous studies and theories about how much you should have saved for retirement, emergencies, necessities and other expenditures.
For example, studies by Fidelity and T. Rowe Price do a nice job of showing some retirement savings benchmarks for where you need to be, starting at age 30. Both studies stress the need to start saving early, maintain a significant level of contributions throughout your life and also to maintain an age-appropriate allocation to equities throughout.
The level of your emergency fund is far less dependent upon your age than your circumstances. In assembling an emergency fund, the common rule of thumb is three to six months’ worth of living expenses.
When it comes to setting aside money for necessities, splurges and big expenditures, this is also dependent upon your circumstances more so than age. However, your circumstances are likely to change throughout the decades.
“To figure out how much you need, use an online budgeting resource such as Mint, break out your monthly bills and figure out an overall amount,” said David Bakke of personal finance website Money Crashers. “If you’re falling short, try using coupons for groceries, or go without cable TV, as there are plenty of alternatives.”
As for other expenditures, it’s important to budget and save for those, as well. “To me, splurges and big expenditures should be saved for on a case-by-case basis, and there’s really no one amount that can be determined according to one’s age,” said Bakke. “In order to avoid falling into credit card debt, only put a splurge on a credit card if you can pay the bill off in full by the time it comes in.”
Whether you’re focused on saving for retirement, emergencies or splurges, it’s helpful to have a framework so you can cover your financial bases. Here are some benchmarks and tips to help you achieve your savings goals — and to see if you are on the right track.