Once you’re in your 30s, it’s essential to make retirement planning a priority. While ideally, you’ve been planning all along for retirement, the truth is that you may not have gotten to it in your 20s. People make less money, plan less for the future, and invest less at a younger age.

If that’s how you spent your last decade (or even if you didn’t) making changes in your 30s will help you make enormous strides towards retirement. Many of the milestones that tend to happen in our 30s – starting a family, buying a home, advancing a career – are future-facing. Retirement planning fits perfectly into this theme.

Here are four necessary moves to get you started.

Set Goals and Expectations

To properly save for retirement, you need to determine how much you’ll need. Conventional wisdom suggests that around 70-90% of your pre-retirement income will be sufficient to cover your expenses in retirement, but what you actually need may vary based on your lifestyle goals. And while it is impossible to fully predict the future, some considerations can include:

  • Will you downsize or move to a smaller home?
  • Do you wish to travel in retirement?
  • Do you plan on continuing to work part time?

All of these considerations – and more – can factor into your retirement plan.

Start (or Increase) Investing

Many employers offers a 401(k) plan that allows you to invest pre-tax income towards your retirement, and many employers will match your contributions up to a certain percentage. If you haven’t already started a 401(k), you should sign up right away. Try to contribute as much as you can afford, with the expectation that you will increase that contribution as you can – for instance, after a raise.

Another retirement account option is a Roth IRA, which differs from 401(k) plans: the money you contribute to Roth IRAs is already taxed, withdrawing funds generally comes without stiff penalties associated with 401(k) plans, and Roth IRA plans are independent of your employer.

If you’re already contributing to a retirement account, try to increase your contributions as much as you can as time goes on. The more you contribute now, the more your account can grow.

Meet with a Financial Planner

If your employer offers financial counseling for your 401(k) contributions, you should speak to the financial planner managing your account. In your 30s, investments will generally include a mix of both safer and riskier options, with a shift towards secure investments as you age. Financial planners can help you choose the plan and investment portfolio that’s right for you.

However, you may need to engage a financial planner outside your employer’s reach to determine other investment plans, savings goals, and financial strategies. Together, you and a financial planner can put together a customized plan to help you meet your unique needs.

Start an Emergency Fund

You should also increase the amount of money you’re saving for an emergency fund. The last thing you need is to pull from your retirement account because you have medical, home, or vehicle costs that can’t be postponed.

The more you contribute to an emergency fund, the more your retirement funds are protected from unexpected events.


Now that you’re in your 30s, you can no longer afford to ignore or postpone retirement planning and investing. Retirement should be a happy event to look forward to – not something to dread because you don’t know how you’ll afford to live. If you’re in your 30s, you must get started now, and be aggressive about it. Your future retired self will thank you.




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