This Retirement Savings Chart Will Make You Feel Terrible, but it Shouldn’t

A retired couple hike up a mountain.
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It seems like nearly every day I read an article that bashes everyone for not having enough in retirement savings.

I’m all for pushing toward my financial goals, but honestly, just how realistic is the advice out there about how much we should have tucked away for retirement?

If you’re like me and feel guilty about your savings, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone, and you shouldn’t feel guilty.

This Retirement Savings Chart Might Ruin Your Day

According to investment company Fidelity, the amount you have in your savings should correlate with your age and annual salary. Fidelity says it determines these amounts by “a yearly savings rate, a savings factor, an income replacement rate, and a potentially sustainable withdrawal rate to help you create your retirement roadmap.”

According to Fidelity’s chart, if you started 25 years old and want to retire at age 67 with the same lifestyle, you should have at least one year’s salary tucked away for retirement by the time you’re 30. From there, you should have two times your salary saved by 35, three times at 40, four times at 45 and so on until you have a whopping 10 times your salary saved when you retire at 67.

Here’s the chart:

Do People Really Have That Much Saved?

OK, take a breath.

I’m here to tell you that if you don’t have the recommended amount saved, you shouldn’t panic — we don’t have that much saved either.

I took a very official poll here at The Penny Hoarder HQ — official as in I conducted it through Slack — to see if my colleagues had as much saved as this chart recommends.

Here are the results:

See? You’re not alone.

Where This Financial Advice Falls Flat

It’s charts like these that make people feel really bad about themselves.

You know why? Because they make tons of assumptions.

If you read the itty-bitty fine print at the end of the post, you’ll see that this chart is based on the assumption that you would like to retire at 67 and plan to die at 92 (LOL). The numbers are also based on a 15% savings rate, which is the real doozy here.

When it comes down to it, younger generations have the odds stacked against them. They’re dealing with out-of-control housing costs and student loan debt that’s higher than ever.

In the second quarter of 2017, the median wage for full-time U.S. workers was $859 per week, which works out to $44,668 over a year. For a young worker, saving 15% of that income would be tough after making ridiculous rent and student loan payments.

So yes, let’s remember that not all of us can put away that golden 15% of our income and still afford to live.

If you’re ready to stop freaking out about retirement and get a hold of your plan, check out a few of these resources:

  • Wondering where a chunk of your paycheck is going each month? Read up on 401(k) basics and a cool strategy for how to make the most out of yours today — and maybe even retire early with it!
  • Does your employer not offer a company-backed retirement plan? Here’s everything you need to know about Roth IRAs and how to get started with one.

So don’t panic. Not all charts — or retirement plans — are created equal.

Kelly Anne Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.