Money

Here's how much families have in retirement savings—and how much they actually need

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Retirement in America is changing rapidly

Nearly half of Americans are at risk of retiring broke. That's according to a survey by GOBankingRates, which found that 42 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 tucked away for their golden years.

Another report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), using 2013 data, also found that many Americans are highly unprepared for retirement. The EPI looked at the mean and median retirement savings of working-age families, which it defines as those with wage-earners between 32 and 61 years old.

The mean retirement savings for these families is $95,776 in 2013 dollars. That sounds considerable but, as the EPI points out, that number doesn't tell the whole story. Since so many families have zero savings and since super-savers can pull up the average, the median savings, or those at the 50th percentile, may be a better gauge. And the median for all working-age families in the U.S. is just $5,000.

Retirement preparedness also varies by age, the EPI notes. Not surprisingly, younger families have less stashed away. Here's the mean retirement account savings of families by age:

Retirement savings have stagnated in the new millennium

And here's the median retirement account savings of families by age:

Most families—even those approaching retirement—have little or no retirement savings

Here's a breakdown of the mean and median retirement savings of U.S. families at every age:

Mean retirement savings of families between 32 and 37: $31,644
Median retirement savings of families between 32 and 37: $480

Mean retirement savings of families between 38 and 43: $67,270
Median retirement savings of families between 38 and 43: $4,200

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Mean retirement savings of families between 44 and 49: $81,347
Median retirement savings of families between 44 and 49: $6,200

Mean retirement savings of families between 50 and 55: $124,831
Median retirement savings of families between 50 and 55: $8,000

Mean retirement savings of families between 56 and 61: $163,577
Median retirement savings of families between 56 and 61: $17,000

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How much should you have saved? The answer is highly personal and depends on your lifestyle and spending habits, but there are a few basic guidelines to follow if you want to retire comfortably.

For starters, many experts recommend setting aside at least 10 percent of your income as soon as possible. A 2017 report from the International Longevity Centre — UK (ILC-UK) finds that people should be saving at least 11 percent, and ideally more like 20 percent, of your income if you want "to achieve an adequate retirement income," which it defines as 70 percent of your earnings throughout your working life.

There are a few more strategies that will help you assess your own retirement strategy. One good rule of thumb is to have 10 times your final salary in savings if you want to retire by age 67, according to retirement-plan provider Fidelity Investments. Fidelity also suggests a timeline to use in order to get to that magic number:

  • By 30: Have the equivalent of your salary saved
  • By 40: Have three times your salary saved
  • By 50: Have six times your salary saved
  • By 60: Have eight times your salary saved
  • By 67: Have 10 times your salary saved

Need help reaching these savings goals? Check out:

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