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The ultimate guide to retirement savings by age

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Kathrin Ziegler/Getty Images

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how much you "need" to save in order to retire comfortably. That figure hinges on a number of factors, including the age at which you'd like to retire and the kind of lifestyle you imagine for yourself and your family.

However, if you're looking for general guideposts on how much you "should" have saved throughout your career, our "retirement savings by age" series provides comprehensive suggestions on ideal savings figures for each decade of life beginning at age 30. Along with these general savings targets, the series offers concrete suggestions on ways to bolster your current nest egg if you feel behind.

Explore each article in the series below, and click through for a deeper dive into a particular age bracket.

Retirement savings in your 30s

If you're in your 30s, you may not be worried about saving for retirement. You've got plenty of time, right? While that's true, it's also true that the earlier you begin to save, the more time your money will have to grow via compound interest.

A good rule of thumb is to have at least one year's salary invested in a retirement account by the time you reach your 30s. Additionally, aim to save at least 10%-15% of your income for retirement. If you can't manage that much, start with what you can and increase your contributions as you get raises or other financial windfalls.

There are a number of retirement savings vehicles available, including 401(k)s, IRAs and annuities. Which one is right for you will depend on your individual circumstances. However, in general, try to take advantage of any employer-sponsored retirement savings plans, as they often come with matching contributions from your employer.

> Read our in-depth guide on retirement planning in your 30s

Retirement savings in your 40s

If you're in your 40s and haven't started saving for retirement yet, don't panic. Many people in their 40s balance significant—and often competing—financial goals like paying off student loans, saving for children's college educations and supporting aging parents. It's not too late to start investing. However, it's worth making retirement planning a primary financial goal from now on.

The ideal situation is to have three times your annual salary invested by the time you're in your 40s. If you haven't saved that much, though, you still have options. One way to catch up is to open a Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, you contribute after-tax dollars, and all future withdrawals are tax-free. This can be a great way to boost your retirement savings alongside an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Also, try to increase your contributions each year, even if it's only by 1%-2%. These small increases can make a big difference in the long run—you will still reap the benefits of compound interest for many years.

> Read our in-depth guide on retirement planning in your 40s

Retirement savings in your 50s

By your 50s, a good goal is to have 5-6 times your annual salary saved in a retirement account. This is only a generalized recommendation, as one person's needs in retirement may look very different than another's.

Your 50s are a good time to consider how you might generate income in retirement. Consider any sources of income you may eventually have, such as a pension, social security, retirement account and withdrawals. You may also have the desire or need to work part time or start a small business. Many people love working and have no plans to stop, while others count the days until their accounts mature enough to support them entirely.

It might be wise to connect with a financial advisor in your 50s. They can help you take stock of your projected monthly income and whether you may need to work in your sunset years.

> Click here for an in-depth guide on retirement planning in your 50s

Retirement savings in your 60s

In general, having 7-8 times your annual income invested in a retirement account is an excellent position to be in when you're in your 60s. If you don't have that, fortunately, you now have the option to put more in your retirement account than you did when you were younger. After age 50, you can make catch-up contributions that vary on the kind of retirement plan you have. Your financial advisor can help with this process.

They can also guide you through estate planning, which is another wise undertaking at this age. Estate planning includes establishing important documents such as a will and a power of attorney. Setting up these plans ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones will be taken care of if something happens to you.

> Check our our in-depth guide on retirement planning in your 60s

It's never too late to start saving

Planning and saving for retirement is a smart choice at any age—that's the main takeaway of our "retirement savings by age" series. No matter how old you are, you can take steps to ensure you're on the right track. By taking advantage of compound interest, maxing out employer-sponsored retirement plans and having multiple income streams in retirement, you're setting yourself up for a bright future.

Use our retirement income planning calculator to see how you’re progressing with your goals. Then sit down with a financial professional to review your retirement income plan. Planning for retirement is a complicated topic, and objective guidance could make a real difference. Connect with a Thrivent financial advisor to discuss your options.