An older woman is smiling down at something out of the frame.
Planning for retirement

How much should you be saving?

Your goal amount will depend on the lifestyle and retirement date you want as well as the other sources of income you'll have.
4 minute read

Just getting started? Save what you can

If retirement is decades away, setting a specific goal amount is probably unnecessary. For now, focus on:

  1. Immediately saving at least enough to get the full match offered by your employer plan, if you have one. This is free money—don't let it pass you by.
  2. Working your way up to 12%–15% of your pay, including any employer match. For example, you could increase your savings rate 1% every year until you reach your target rate. This should get you in the ballpark of what you'll need.

Average retirement savings by age

Source: Vanguard, How America Saves 2018. This study examined employer retirement plans (and their participants) managed by Vanguard. Amounts reflect the average balance per account.

Closer to retirement, narrow in on your goal

Two big factors weigh heavily on your retirement savings needs: how many years you're going to spend in retirement and how much you're going to need to withdraw each year.

Plan to spend at least 30 years in retirement—longer if you think you'll retire early. Medical advances are consistently extending the average lifespan.

Even if you don't plan to retire early, illness or other responsibilities could prevent you from working as long as you expected, extending your retirement on both ends.

Figuring out how much you're going to withdraw each year can also be a little tricky.

After you estimate your expected budget—which will depend on the lifestyle you expect to live in retirement—you'll need to take into account other income (like Social Security and any pensions or rental income you're expecting, for example) and calculate the difference.

Find out when you might have enough to retire

What do others do?

In 2014, the average age people expected to retire was between 66 and 67. However, the actual age at which people did retire was 61.

Source: Gallup Poll Social Series, May 2018.

Learn more about retirement accounts at Vanguard

We offer several types of accounts you can use to save for retirement. Figure out which one is right for you.

Find the right retirement account for you

LET VANGUARD DIGITAL ADVISOR® BE YOUR GUIDE

Vanguard's robo-advisor makes staying on track to your retirement goal simple—through automated, personalized investing.

See how Digital Advisor can work for you


We're here to help

Talk with one of our investment specialists

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern time



We're here to help

Talk with one of our investment specialists

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern time


For more information about Vanguard funds or ETFs, visit vanguard.com to obtain a prospectus or, if available, a summary prospectus. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information about a fund are contained in the prospectus; read and consider it carefully before investing.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

When taking employer plan withdrawals before age 59½, you may have to pay ordinary income tax plus a 10% federal penalty tax.

Vanguard Digital Advisor's services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc. ("VAI"), a federally registered investment advisor. VAI is a subsidiary of VGI and an affiliate of VMC. Neither VAI nor its affiliates guarantee profits or protection from losses.