By the time you turn 50, you should have a solid amount in savings for both your short and long-term goals. Experts say you should have at least three to six months' worth of living expenses in an emergency fund and also be well on your way to saving $1 million for retirement .
Most Americans that age aren't close. The median Gen X household has only $15,780 in total savings, MagnifyMoney reports.
Are you on track? Here's exactly how much should you have saved by age 50.
What to have saved for retirement
Fidelity, the nation's largest retirement-plan provider, recommends having the equivalent of six times your annual salary saved. That means, if you earn $50,000 per year, by your 50th birthday, you should have around $300,000 socked away.
These should be funds you've allocated for the future, including anything in a retirement account such as a 401(k) or Roth IRA, plus any company matches, and can also include other amounts you have in long-term investments in index funds or with robo-advisers.
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To get to that number, Fidelity recommends saving 15 percent of your annual income. Make sure to invest these funds instead of leaving them in a traditional low-interest savings account. "If you only saved money in an account that got no return , you'd have to save a lot more to reach your goal," Meghan Murphy, a VP at Fidelity, tells CNBC Make It .
And, Murphy adds, "if you want to live a lavish life in retirement, you may want to save a little bit more," but "if you're perfectly content hanging out at home in retirement, you may need to save a little bit less."
If you're years or decades away from middle age, it's okay if you aren't able to contribute a full 15 percent. "It's something to work towards over time," Murphy says. "Always make sure you're getting that company match, then try to increase your savings by 1 percent annually until you reach that 15 percent."
However, if you're nearing or over 50, you may want to think about increasing your contributions.
Remember to prioritize your own future, too. That means not sacrificing your retirement savings for other goals , such as paying off student loans or for covering your children's education.
What to have saved for emergencies
Experts advise that you build up an emergency fund that could cover at least three-to-six months of living expenses.
Emergency funds can cushion the blow if you're struck by financial disaster, says best-selling author Dave Ramsey . Since something is always bound to go wrong, having money on hand will help.
"Car blows up. Transmission goes out. You bury a loved one. Grown kids move home again. Life happens, so be ready," Ramsey writes in "The Total Money Makeover." "This is not a surprise."
Suze Orman, personal finance expert and best-selling author of "Women & Money," agrees, though she recommends being even more prepared. "You need as much money in the bank that makes you feel secure," she says. "Don't go fooling yourself, 'It's okay, I can charge on a credit card, I can do this.' You should have at least eight months. Not six months, not three months. I'd like to see you have eight months to one year."
How to bulk up your savings
While it's great to start saving early in order to take advantage of compounding, if you're nearing 40 or 50 and only have a paltry amount put away, don't panic. At this point, "the best thing you can do is to set a goal," Murphy says. "It may not be, 'I'll have three times my income by the time I'm 40,' but maybe it's 'I'm going to do what I need to do to have twice my income.' Sometimes that is a matter of making a few changes to how you spend your paycheck ."
You can consider putting any windfalls, such as pay increases, bonuses or cash gifts from family members, directly into savings. "That's an opportunity to say 'I'm going to take this chunk of money and I'm going to put it in an IRA' or 'I'm going to take this bonus and I'm going to put it in my 401(k),'" Murphy says.
You might also want to consider delaying retirement by a few years in order to pad your savings, especially if you've taken time off to focus on other financial goals, such as buying a house, Murphy says.
If you aren't sure the best way for you to catch up, don't be afraid to ask an expert. "There is a wealth of knowledge available through employers, through financial experts, checklists and simple ways to help people start thinking about it," Murphy says.
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