When Should You Start Saving For Retirement?

A constant increase in the cost of living means saving for your retirement has never been so important

It is a conundrum for many of us. When is the perfect time to start saving for retirement? Well that depends on your life goals I suppose!

For instance, I’m planning ahead now so I can call work a day by the time I’m 55 giving me just over 20 years to make sure I have enough saved and invested to enjoy my twilight years.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the official retirement age rise beyond the current 68 by that point and if you’re happy to work that long then good for you, I most certainly am not!

Back in the day when I was still an overworked barber I had an interesting conversation with one of my clients who is a financial advisor, I mentioned I was thinking about starting a pension. His advice? I was already too late – I was 28 years old.

Fast forward 7 years and I’m still playing catch up, but at least I have a strong plan to achieve the dream of total financial freedom within the next 20 years.

Through saving hard and investing I aim to provide myself with a steady income without having to go to work for 45 hours a week to do so.

But what if you intend to work right the way through to official retirement age? What age should you start your retirement saving?

What Young Adults Think

The guys over at ICOUNT Money recently surveyed 1,000 18-25 year olds in conjunction with OnePoll about when they think they should start saving for retirement.

Amazingly only 48% of women and 47% of men thought that you should start saving for your retirement between the ages of 20-29, with another 26% of women and 22% of men thinking you should start between the ages of 30-39.

Break this down over the age groups of the young adults surveyed and you can see it becomes more of a concern to us the older we get with 41% of 18-20 year olds, 49% of 21-23 year olds and 55% of 24-25 year olds saying they felt you should start saving for retirement between the ages of 20-29.

Which gives even more weight to the need for financial education younger.


Full survey results:

18-20 21-23 24-25
20-29 40.76% 49.08% 55.40%
139 187 154
30-39 26.10% 24.93% 23.38%
89 95 65
40-49 18.18% 12.60% 7.19%
62 48 20
50-59 4.99% 2.89% 2.16%
17 11 6
60-69 1.47% 1.57% 1.08%
5 6 3
N/A / Not sure 8.50% 8.92% 10.79%
29 34 30
Average 33.6 31.65 29.94


Act now!

We live in a world where the cost of living is ever increasing and it is fast becoming crucial to start planning for your retirement earlier on in life.

Make a plan and execute it, try to save a minimum of 10% of your wages, I aim for 20% but I have no dependents and I understand that it is simply not viable for everyone to save quite so much, but still ensure you’re saving something.

If there is a pension scheme at work join it. The money is deducted from your wage before it has chance to hit your bank and I promise you will not even notice it has gone.

If you started doing this at 18 you could easily ensure you are not left fending for yourself on the state pension alone.
Stop putting it off and make plans to tackle your retirement today because at this rate if you are over 25 you probably have some catching up to do already.  

Life expectancy is on the rise every year, that coupled with the constant increase in the cost of living means it is crucial to act now. 

What plans have you made for your retirement?

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David Naylor is the editor of the Thinking Thrifty blog. An award winning personal finance and lifestyle blogger, he shows how it is possible to live extremely well for less.
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7 thoughts on “When Should You Start Saving For Retirement?

    1. I totally agree Francesca, it’s so easy to think it’s far enough away to delay when the reality is we should all be saving from the moment we enter working life. The cost of living shows no sign of slowing and a state pension won’t cover much in the next 20-30 years!

  1. In today’s instant gratification culture it can be hard parting with money that you won’t use for forty or so years. I’m 30 and can barely think past next week, never mind to when I’m 60 (plus I have this notion in my head that I’ll be the next jk Rowling, so why would I need a pension?).

    I’ve recently started a new job which has a pension and I’m surprised by how relieved I am that I’ve finally got it sorted. Sure, it takes money away from the house-deposit ,obey I’m saving for, but you’re right, I don’t particularly notice it anymore.

    1. I was so late starting mine so I’m playing catch up now. I’ve upped my contributions to 11% and hoping to push that up further in the next three months. 2017 is going to be the year I live off no more than 50% of my income, something I’ve failed miserably at this year, although 2016 was still a huge improvement on the rest of my life! Ha

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