It seems crazy to be talking about retirement when you’re only 30, but doing something about it now means you can be prepared when the time comes.

“Retirement is so far away for someone in this age group, they often ignore it to focus on short-term goals,” says Rob Glasgow, a wealth adviser for Pie Funds.

“Buying a house, starting a family and travel are all important goals, and yes, you should be saving for those, but never at the expense of retirement,” he says.


It’s never too early

About a quarter of people don’t start investing until their 30s, but the reality is, the sooner you start, the better your retirement lifestyle could be, he says.

“Your 30s is still young, relative to your overall working life, and it still gives you time to get yourself in a strong position for retirement.”

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The later you start, the more you may need to invest every year to end up with the same amount in retirement.

Even if you’re saving hard for your first home, it’s great if you can still put some money aside regularly – even just a little bit – for your retirement.

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How much?

As a general rule, aim to allocate around 15 per cent of your after-tax income to retirement savings, but really, you should put aside as much as you’re comfortably able to says Glasgow.

NZ Super may change over the next 30 or so years.

Also, people are living longer now, so you’ll need more money for retirement than previous generations.

“Saving for retirement doesn’t have to make you a killjoy. If you manage your money properly, you can still enjoy life while you’re saving,” he says.

Where to invest?

There are many ways to help boost your savings, says Glasgow.

“When you’re young, you can afford to take calculated risk, because you have a very long investment horizon. Your goal should be growth.”

The exception would be if you’re someone who’s not comfortable with the risk associated with investing in growth funds – it means there’s a higher risk of losing your money.

Glasgow says you should take full advantage of KiwiSaver by being in the right fund for your goals, and contributing regularly, to at least get the annual government contribution of $521.43.

Life’s changing

In your 30s, you might find there’s a dramatic change in your lifestyle, with big life events using up money.

You may buy your first home, get married and have kids, but stay disciplined and keep allocating some money to investment, Glasgow says.

Having a will and life insurance are good things to consider.

Set some goals, and check them once a year – with your partner, if you’re in a relationship.

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How am I doing?

Most people want to retire at 65, with about 80% of their pre-retirement income coming in, invested conservatively.

Glasgow has crunched the numbers, excluding NZ Super.

He’s found that at age 30, you should have saved around 5% of that sum.

By the end of your 30s, you should aim to have saved around 15% of the sum you’ll need in retirement.

His figures assume:

  • Someone starts earning $40k at age 20 and is saving 12% of their after-tax salary every year until 65
  • Their salary steadily increases to $75k by the time they retire at 65
  • They earn an average of 6% per year on their investments until age 65
  • They start drawing an income of $60k per year from age 65 onwards (80% of their salary in retirement)
  • The return on their investments drops to 3% pa in retirement to reflect more a conservative investment approach going forward.

How to get ahead

  • In your 30s, your career might be taking off, so treat pay rises as extra money to invest.
  • Avoid ‘lifestyle creep’, where your expenses keep going up as your income does.
  • Keep debt to a minimum. Avoid bad debt, like credit cards, which cost a lot in interest, and make sure your credit score is good. This will help you get favourable rates on good debt, like a mortgage, later on.
  • Start keeping track of your spending and try to work within a budgeted amount each week. There are cool apps to do this for you.
  • Have a rainy-day fund, to pay for short-term emergencies like car repairs, or losing your job.

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Published 11 June 2019

Story by Brenda Ward, JUNO

Rob Glasgow is a wealth adviser and an authorised financial adviser at Pie Funds. You can access his disclosure statement free of charge at This article is general in nature only and has not taken into account any particular person’s objectives or circumstances. We recommend you speak with a financial adviser. All content is correct at time of publication date.