There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all retirement savings strategy. We each have our own foundation of goals, resources, and circumstances to take into account as we build and strengthen our financial standing at every stage of life.

Use these tips to identify actionable steps that can help you feel more financially stable and better prepared for retirement at every life stage.


Select your age group: 20s | 30s | 40s | 50s | 60s 70s


In Your 20s

You may now be earning an income, becoming more financially independent and starting to build your financial foundation. With immediate concerns such as student loan debt and basic living expenses on your plate, retirement may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, it’s important to harness the time that’s on your side and start putting your money to work for you.

  1. Track your spending and create a budget that will help you achieve your savings goal. Try to spend only 80-85% of your income.

  2. Aim for an investing goal. Strive to save 15% of your income toward retirement, but if you can only do 5-10% that's a good starting point.

    Note: It’s important to contribute early and often. With the power of compounding, you can grow even a small investment into a much larger one. For example, if you invested $1,000 every year from age 25 to 65 and assumed a hypothetical average return of 8%, you could turn your total $40,000 investment into $279,781 over those 40 years.[1]

  3. Take advantage of an employer-sponsored retirement plan, like a 401(k) plan. Be sure you contribute at least as much as any employer “match” program - don’t leave free money on the table! 

    Note: Be mindful of vesting periods associated with an employer match. If you leave the company before you're vested, you could lose your match.

  4. Check the asset allocation within your retirement account to confirm it strikes the appropriate balance between risk and reward based on your goals, time horizon and risk tolerance.

  5. Pay down debt and prioritize higher-interest debt. As you reduce your debts, you'll have more money to save toward your short- and long-term goals.

  6. Begin building an emergency savings fund. Set a goal to save the equivalent of at least three to six months of your monthly living expenses and consider keeping it in an interest-bearing savings account.

Use the Budget Worksheet to calculate your basic and discretionary monthly living expenses.

The Emergency Fund Calculator can help you determine how much you'll need to cover 3-12 months of expenses.


In Your 30s

You may be starting to establish your career and also have additional financial concerns, including managing finances with a new spouse, saving for a child’s education, buying a home and getting a better handle on debt. Don't let your retirement savings shift to the back-burner.

  1. Consider opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to supplement your 401(k) plan. Using both can help maximize your retirement savings.

    Note: If you're starting a family and considering taking time away from the workforce, a Spousal IRA can help you stay on track, or consider increasing your retirement contributions prior to leave.

  2. Be more aggressive with your debt payments, especially on student loans and credit cards to create more fiscal momentum. Try to add an additional $50-$100 to your principal payment if you can.

  3. Establish automatic contributions to your savings and retirement accounts from each paycheck so you’re committed to paying yourself first.

  4. Consider opening a 529 savings plan for your children's future education expenses - but not at the cost of your own retirement savings.

  5. Avoid lifestyle creep. Make smart decisions with any cash flow surpluses resulting from changes in your financial responsibilities or unexpected windfalls like a tax refund, pay increase, or bonus.

  6. Consider establishing non-retirement brokerage accounts so you can take advantage of other investment opportunities to help build your overall net worth.


In Your 40s

You may be embarking on your peak earning years and may also have changed jobs more than once - or you may be returning after time away from the workforce. Wherever your path leads, this is an opportunity to get any debt under control and really make a push towards funding your future.

  1. Increase the amount you’re saving for retirement by 1-2% each year until you reach 15%.

  2. Rebalance your portfolio so your asset allocation continues to reflect your time horizon, goals & risk tolerance.

  3. Consider securing insurance coverage to protect the assets you have worked hard to accumulate, in addition to the people and things you love.

  4. Revisit old 401(k) plans to confirm your asset allocation still supports your retirement goals and is aligned with your overall time horizon and risk tolerance.

    Note: There are four different actions you can take with your old 401(k) plans. Talk to a Financial Advisor about your options and determine which is most appropriate based on your situation.

  5. Consider taking advantage of a Health Savings Account (HSA). HSAs offer a triple tax benefit, making it another viable means to save for retirement.

  6. Meet with a Financial Advisor to discuss and prioritize your goals with the help of a written financial plan and a well-defined investment strategy.


In Your 50s

You may now be in your peak earning years, but also have acquired other types of debt. As you juggle your financial responsibilities, remember your retirement should come first and at this stage it’s not so far away. The good thing is there’s still time to maximize your savings. Keep up the momentum!

  1. Ramp up your retirement savings, especially if you had a later start or got sidetracked along the way. At age 50, you can begin making catch-up contributions to your 401(k) plan and IRA.

  2. Revisit your insurance coverage; make sure your beneficiaries are current.

  3. Devise a plan for paying off any lingering debts and prioritize paying off variable interest rate debts so your income in retirement is more predictable.

  4. Have realistic conversations with your parents or children to level set what type of financial support you’ll provide and share your expectations of them.

  5. Consider long-term care options to support your future medical needs in retirement. This may seem early, but it may be the ideal time because you’re still healthy, or at least healthier than you’ll be in the future, and your premiums will likely be less expensive.

  6. Revisit your budget and cash flow. It can be easy to spend more freely during peak earning years, especially if you’re an empty nester now.

The PNC Retirement Calculator can help you see where you stand based on what you’ve saved so far.


In Your 60s 

With retirement on the horizon, you may now be envisioning what that might actually look like for you, researching your options and getting serious about laying the groundwork for this next chapter of your life. 

  1. Meet with a Financial Advisor to determine how much your retirement will cost, review your income sources, identify any gaps and develop a retirement income strategy.

  2. Determine the timing for when you'll begin claiming your social security benefit and what impact that will have on it.

  3. Revisit old 401(k) plans to confirm your asset allocation still supports your retirement goals and is aligned with your overall time horizon and risk tolerance.

    Note: There are four different actions you can take with your old 401(k) plans. Talk to a Financial Advisor about your options and determine which is most appropriate based on your situation. 

  4. Rebalance your portfolio so your asset allocation reflects your changing time horizon, goals & risk tolerance.

  5. Explore working longer or finding part-time work to help accumulate more savings, explore other interests, and stay active – both mentally and socially.

    Note: It’s important to understand what implications working part-time can have on your social security benefit, medicare, etc.

  6. Check in on your emergency savings fund. If you want to avoid tapping your nest egg to pay for unexpected expenses in retirement or plan to live on a fixed income, make sure you have money earmarked for emergencies.


In Your 70s

You may be retired and adjusting to a new normal with a hobby, travels, volunteer work or time with grandchildren. Some people find it challenging to shift from an "accumulating assets" mindset to spending their retirement funds, but you've earned it, so enjoy it!

  1. Work out a budget and stick to it, making sure there's room for unexpected expenses.

  2. Simplify and organize your finances; utilize a family organizer like the Letter of Instructions to document your wishes and other critical information all in one place. These actions can help avoid costly mistakes and guide decision-making on your behalf, if needed.

  3. Talk to a tax planner to determine which of your assets to use first so you can draw down your retirement income tax efficiently.

  4. Start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-deferred retirement accounts by December 31 of the year in which you turn age 73 to avoid any penalties.[2]

    Note: For your first distribution, you may request an extension until April 1st of the following year. Keep in mind, you'll need to take all subsequent RMDs by December 31st of each year, including your second RMD distribution. When an RMD is not taken correctly, any shortfall is subject to a hefty 25% penalty.

  5. Get your estate plans in order so your assets will be passed along according to your wishes. 

  6. Keep an eye on your portfolio with the help of a Financial Advisor so you can help manage risk as needed and help avoid running out of funds.

Contact Us Today

Wherever you find yourself on your saving and investing journey, a PNC Investments Financial Advisor can help you better define what it is you are looking to achieve financially and help put your goals within reach at every life stage – regardless of your starting point. 

Talk to a PNC Investments Financial Advisor by calling 855-PNC-INVEST or stopping by your local branch.