Guide To How Much You Should Save From Each Paycheck

By Janet Siroto · November 21, 2023 · 10 minute read

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Guide To How Much You Should Save From Each Paycheck

Sure, you know you should be saving money, but, if you’re like many people, you’re not sure exactly how much to be stashing away. Some people put $100 per paycheck away and feel pretty proud of that; others will be able to set aside 10 times that amount. Still others will use a percentage, typically saving 10% to 30% of their salary.

In this guide, you’ll learn more about how much of your paycheck you should save. Many experts recommend 20% of your paycheck toward your total savings, which includes retirement, short-term savings, and any other savings goals. But exactly how much you should save each month, however, will depend on a number of factors, including your goals, current income and living expenses.

Key Points

•   Financial experts recommend saving between 10% and 30% of your salary, with 20% being a common figure.

•   The 50/30/20 rule suggests allocating 20% of your take-home income to savings, including retirement, short-term savings, and other goals, such as debt repayment beyond the minimum due.

•   The amount to save from each paycheck depends on factors like goals, current income, and living expenses.

•   Saving for an emergency fund, retirement, and other goals are important savings objectives.

•   Cutting spending, automating savings, and choosing the right savings account can help increase savings.

How Much of Your Paycheck Should You Save?

When it comes to what percentage of income to save for future expenses, financial advice can vary depending on where you look. Some experts suggest saving as little as 10% of each paycheck, while others might suggest 30% or more.

For some people who are living paycheck to paycheck, the answer to “How much of my income should I save?” may be lower still. It may be wiser to simply come up with a set amount (say, $25 to $50) to deposit into savings.

Rules of Thumb

According to the 50/30/20 rule of budgeting, 50% of your take-home income should go to essentials, 30% to nonessentials, and 20% to saving for future goals (including debt repayment beyond the minimum).

The right amount for you to save from each paycheck will depend on your income, your fixed expenses, as well as your short- and long-term financial goals.

If, for instance, you are a recent grad living at home for a while and your living expenses are very low, you may be able to save a much higher percentage for the time being.

Or, if you have a sizable credit card balance, you might pump money towards paying that off. In this situation, you might minimize or even pause the amount saved while getting that debt eliminated.

Calculating Percentages From Your Paycheck

To figure out how much to save from each paycheck, you’ll need to consider a few factors. The right amount will depend on your income, your fixed expenses, as well as your short- and long-term financial goals.

•   For example, if the cost of living is high in your state or local area, you may need to spend more than half of your take-home pay on living expenses, making it hard to put 20% of each paycheck into savings.

•   On the other hand, if your goal is to buy a home in two years, you may need to put more than 20% percent of your paycheck into savings in order to have your down payment in that timeline.

•   If you want to retire early, you may need to put more of your income towards retirement every month than the average worker.

Recommended: Check out the 50/30/20 budget calculator to see a breakdown of your money.

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4 Important Savings Goals to Work Toward

While it’s widely recognized that saving can be a good idea, it can be helpful to really think about what it is you are saving for. Having a few specific goals in mind can help you determine how much you should save from each paycheck as well as motivate you.

Here are some common savings goals that can help you build financial wellness.

1. Emergency Fund

Yes, it can be hard to save money, but one of the most important priorities is to sock away money (even if just a little) regularly into an emergency fund.

An emergency fund is a bundle of easily accessible cash that could help you handle a financial curveball, such as a job loss, medical emergency, or big ticket car or home repair.

Having this back-up fund in place can help ensure that you never have to rely on credit cards to make ends meet.

Ideally, an emergency fund will contain enough money to cover your living expenses for three to six months, but how much you’ll want to put aside will depend on your situation.

•   If you are married with an employed spouse and with no children, for example, you may only need to cover three months’ worth of expenses.

•   If you have kids or you’re single, you may want to have an emergency fund that could cover at least six months’ worth of expenses.

It can help to keep the money in an account that earns more interest than a standard savings account, but allows you to easily access your money. Some good options include a high-yield savings account or money market account.

💡 Need help determining your emergency fund amount? Check out this emergency fund calculator for help.

2. Paying Off High-Interest Debt

Another important thing you could consider doing with your savings is paying off any high-interest debt (or “bad” debt) you may have. Typically, this is credit card debt, which currently has an average rate of well over 20%.

•   One debt payoff strategy you may want to consider is the debt snowball method. With this approach, you start by paying off the debt with the smallest balance and put all your extra payments towards that until it’s paid off (while continuing to pay the minimum on your other debts).

You then put extra payments toward the debt with the next highest balance, and so on. This can give you a sense of accomplishment which can help motivate you to continue your aggressive repayment.

•   Another approach is the debt avalanche method. This Involves putting all your extra payments towards the debt with the highest interest rate, while paying the minimum on the others.

When that debt is paid off, you then focus on the debt with the next-highest interest rate. Since you are concentrating on the debt with the highest interest rate, this strategy can end up being the most cost-effective.

3. Saving for Retirement

Another reason why saving money is important: It can secure your future by providing for your retirement. Exactly how much of your paycheck should go to retirement savings will depend on your age and when you want to retire. Some pointers:

•   If your company offers a 401(k) with matching contributions, it can make sense to put aside at least as much of your paycheck as your company will match (since this is essentially free money).

•   If you don’t have access to a 401(k) or want to contribute beyond that fund, you may want to open a Roth or Traditional IRA. Both types of IRAs have different tax benefits.

•   When you invest in a Roth IRA, the money is taxed at the time of contribution but then in retirement, you can withdraw it tax-free. Contributions made to a traditional IRA might not be taxed at the time they are made but are taxed when they are withdrawn in retirement.

When choosing how much of your paycheck to put into retirement savings, you may want to keep in mind that the IRS sets restrictions on how much you can contribute to your retirement funds each year. IRS retirement guidelines are published and updated regularly.

💡 Quick Tip: Want a simple way to save more everyday? When you turn on Roundups, all of your debit card purchases are automatically rounded up to the next dollar and deposited into your online savings account.

4. Saving for Other Goals

After establishing plans for debt repayment, an emergency fund, and retirement savings, you may also want to consider working toward your other financial goals, like buying a house, saving for your kids’ future education, or affording a great vacation.

How much of your paycheck you should save for these goals will depend on what you want to accomplish and when you want to accomplish it.

When you’re saving for a big purchase, for example, you may want to start by determining how much money you’ll need and when you want to have the money.

You can then break that dollar amount down into the amount you need to save each year and each month. This can help you determine how much of each paycheck you may want to put aside to help you achieve that goal.

•   For savings goals you want to accomplish in the next three to five years, you may want to consider putting the money in a safe account that earns higher-than-average interest (such as a high-yield savings account, checking and savings account, or a CD).

•   Longer-term savings goals, such as your children’s college education, can be invested more aggressively, since you’ll have more time to ride out the ups and downs of the markets (yes, there is risk involved). For college savings, you may want to consider opening a 529 savings plan.

Reducing Your Costs to Save More

You can help ramp up your savings by cutting your spending. Here are some ideas for saving money daily:

•   Review your monthly bills and see if there’s anything you can cut. You might have signed up for a couple of subscriptions and then forgotten about them, or you might see that your restaurant spending is surging lately.

•   Learn how to save on food. You might try planning your meals weekly, so nothing goes to waste; joining a warehouse or wholesale club to lower your grocery bill; and using coupons and discount codes to downsize your food costs.

•   Bundle up: If you get your auto and home (or renters) insurance from one provider, you may save on your premiums.

•   Fight off FOMO (fear of missing out). Just because your friends are upgrading to a luxury car or a social media influencer is frolicking on the French Riviera, that doesn’t mean you have to too.

•   Pause, for a day or a month, before making pricey impulse buys to make sure you really and truly want or need them.

•   Pay in cash. Plastic, whether a credit or debit card, can make it easy to overspend. If you take out the cash you need for the week ahead and use only that to pay for purchases, you may be able to rein in your purchasing.

Where to Put Your Savings

Once you’ve committed to saving money, you’ll have some options about where to keep it. Some good ideas for funds that you want secure and accessible, as opposed to long-term savings like retirement accounts, include:

•   A high-interest savings account. These pay significantly more than a standard account and are often found at online banks vs. traditional ones. Just be sure to read the fine print and make sure you are aware of and comfortable with any account fees or minimums that might be involved.

•   A certificate of deposit (CD) is an account in which you commit to keeping your money at the bank for a specific term and you know what rate you will earn. Typically, there is a penalty for early withdrawal. The terms for CDs can range from a few months to several years, so you can pick what works best for you. Longer terms will often have higher interest rates.

•   Another option is a money market account (not to be confused with a money market fund, which is an investment) These MMAs offer features of both a checking and a savings account and your money may earn more than with a standard savings account.

Saving With SoFi

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Is saving 10% of my paycheck enough?

How much of your paycheck should you save? Most financial experts advise saving between 10% and 30% of your salary, with 20% being a common figure. Based on this, 10% is an adequate amount for some, but if you can ramp that up in the future, so much the better.

Is 20% of your salary enough to save?

According to the 50/30/20 budget rule, saving 20% of your salary is a good goal to have; that’s the 20 in the name of the guideline. This amount can then be divided to address different needs, such as saving for the down payment on a house, for your child’s college education, and for retirement.

How much of a $1,000 paycheck should I save?

Typically, financial experts recommend saving between 10% and 30% of your paycheck, with 20% being a good figure to aim for. For $1,000, that would mean between $100 and $300, with $200 being the 20% figure. However, if you are earning a lower salary and money is tight, it would be understandable if you save less until your salary increases.

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SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

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