As I flipped through Money magazine the other day, I ran across some interesting statistics. A table showed how much, on average, various age groups had accumulated for their retirement. There were numbers listed for the very wealthy as well as the upper class and upper-middle class. Here are the savings for the upper-middle class of earners:



Retirement Savings

Under 35



35 to 44



45 to 54



55 to 64



65 to 74



The information is interesting in several ways. For starters, it can help us compare ourselves to our peers. If your peers aged 57 have about $112,792 in savings and you have $142,000, you can go ahead and feel a little smug, or at least content.

But hold on there, because that's not the whole picture. Sure, you may be ahead of average, but you may still be behind schedule. Let's say, for example, that you're 60 years old, with a full $200,000 socked away. If you expect that to grow by 10% on average over the next few years and you plan to add more to your pile in the coming years, you stand a good chance of having nearly $400,000 come retirement at age 65. That sure sounds like a great deal of moola, but let's think about it a little more.

In the Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter, I learned that in order to make your nest egg last, you should conservatively plan to withdraw about 4% of it per year in retirement. So, 4% of $400,000 is $16,000. That's about $1,300 a month. Will that be enough? I hereby guess ... no. If you're lucky enough to have a pension, that will certainly make a big difference. And there's still Social Security, of course, though we can't rely on it providing as much as we'd like.

The point is, you need to know more than where you stand in relation to others. What really matters is where you stand in relation to where you should be standing. Here's how much you should have socked away by retirement and what 4% of those sums would yield.


A 4% withdrawal provides















Invest intelligently
Now that you have an idea of how much you might want to have squirreled away by retirement, your next question might be how to get there. One good option is through the use of target maturity funds. These mutual funds generally combine stocks, bonds, and cash, automatically adjusting the allocation as you get closer to retirement.

For instance, Fidelity's Freedom 2030 Fund (FUND:FFFEX) holds about 81% of its assets in stocks right now, with 19% in fixed-income. Freedom is a fund of funds, holding various Fidelity offerings. So if you buy Freedom 2030, you'll indirectly own shares of the Fidelity Equity-Income Fund (FUND:FEQIX), which itself holds shares of AT&T (NYSE:T), Alcoa (NYSE:AA), and Schering-Plough (NYSE:SGP). You'll also get international exposure through the Fidelity Europe Fund (FUND:FIEUX) and its investments in Vodafone (NYSE:VOD), Arcelor Mittal (NYSE:MT), and Nokia (NYSE:NOK).

If you're nervous about how well you've been saving for retirement, I invite (nay, encourage!) you to check out our Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, which you can try for free for 30 days, gaining access to all past issues. Rummage around and gather valuable tips on effective tax strategies, asset allocation, and more. It regularly offers recommendations of promising stocks and mutual funds.

So forget those Joneses, and focus on your savings and investments.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of none of the companies mentioned in this article. Vodafone is an Inside Value recommendation.  Try any one of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is  Fools writing for Fools.