How much should you save each paycheck?

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Bryan Smith - March, 03 2023

8 min read

About the author

Content Manager at Prodigy Finance, helping international students gear up to study abroad

Saving is an essential part of building your wealth and securing future prosperity - though there aren’t many clear guidelines as to how you can do this. In this guide, we’ll explore what you can expect from your paycheck when you enter professional employment, and how you can build savings goals that work for you.

How does a paycheck work?

Once you begin a professional career, you’ll likely receive a monthly paycheck or ‘payslip’ after your salary is paid in arrears. In some cases, if the nature of your work necessitates it, you might also be paid in weekly wages with a regular payslip issued documenting each week’s income.

It’s worthwhile to note that while a paycheck is a reflection of your income earned from your professional career, it likely won’t reflect the entirety of your total income which could come from multiple sources - whether that’s freelance work, interest from an investment, an allowance, or from the sale of assets you own.

Your paycheck, then, is likely the most regular form of income you receive and will also contain whatever occupational benefits you receive from your profession. That might include a contribution towards your retirement annuity or pension fund, a rebate for petrol expenses, medical insurance, or other forms of package benefits that your workplace might offer.

As a result, your paycheck will contain your gross salary (which is the total amount of money you are remunerated in your career and your net salary(which is the total amount of remuneration you will receive minus any payments, contributions, or benefits offered by your employer).

To determine how much should you save each paycheck, it’s important to explore how your paycheck is structured in-between servicing taxes, your common monthly expenses, your needs, and your wants.

How much of my paycheck goes to taxes?

When you enter the workforce, your tax arrangements will largely depend on your country of residence. In many cases, employees will see regular tax deductions on their payslip as an expression of what is called ‘income tax’, where they are taxed by their local government on their total earnings. In most cases, professionals will move into different brackets (amounts) of taxation as their remuneration steadily increases.

In other countries, professionals are expected to retain records of their income and expenses and submit their earnings for review to their local tax authority over a certain number of times during a financial year.

Thereafter, tax authorities will either determine what tax should be imposed on the income tax payer in question, issue an invoice for the payment of further taxes, or issue a return when taxes have been overpaid.

How much of your paycheck goes to taxes?

In most countries, typical expenses which taxpayers contribute towards through their tax payments include national medical insurance, education subsidies, basic income, or child grants for social welfare. This is usually tiered progressively - meaning you will pay more tax as your remuneration increases.

How should I structure my income?

Structuring your income enables you to set aside different amounts of your net pay into different accounts or for separate expenses, which can in turn enable you to budget more effectively.

How much should I save from each paycheck?

While ‘saving’, generally, might be considered a good way to set up a comfortable lifestyle and a secure retirement, there are really several ways to ‘save’ or ‘put money aside’ that can be considered as well.

What percentage of my income should I save for retirement?

While your ‘savings’ can be progressively used for everything from a short-term holiday to a sudden emergency expense, your ultimate career goal is to set yourself up for a comfortable retirement where you can continue to enjoy your current lifestyle into the future.

How much should I put into retirement each month?

A good rule of thumb to follow is to work towards saving up enough money for retirement that would enable you to live on interest earned on your capital, with the view of earning a monthly income of 75% of your final working salary.

What percentage of my income should I save for retirement?

To achieve this, you could follow the below guidelines to determine how much should you save each paycheck:

  • At age 25, you would need to save 17%
  • At age 30, you would need to save 22%
  • At age 35, you would need to save 30%
  • At age 40, would need to save 42%
  • At age 45 you would need to save 59%

What percentage of my salary should go to 401k?

A 401k plan, also referred to by some employers as a remuneration package, is a contribution towards your ultimate retirement which you can progressively invest in through your monthly paycheck.

While you are traditionally able to set up your own 401k contributions, you may wish to set up a 10% or 20% contribution off your monthly remuneration, which your employer might be able to match.

How much should I be investing each month?

While saving in a low-interest bearing account could be considered investing, you will likely want to secure investments with varying risk to secure the chance of affording a higher interest rate and ensure that your capital can grow quickly.

While this is best determined by your appetite for risk, a good strategy to follow is to progressively try and save $100 USD or your local currency equivalent per month. Over the course of a year, this amounts to $1200 USD which you could use to open low, moderate, and high-risk investment accounts to build an investment portfolio that suits your interests and risk appetite.

How much should you save each paycheck?

As most people rely on a single stream of income, saving a portion of your paycheck is vital to ensure that you can not only afford emergency expenses such as medical care or urgent home repairs, but further that you can comfortably save for future milestones such as holidays, larger purchases such as a home, or even your eventual retirement.

What percent of my paycheck should I save?

As the 50/30/20 rule suggests, you can divide your monthly expenses into three categories - namely, your needs (50% of your paycheck), your wants (30%), and your savings (20%).

How much should I have in savings?

Your ideal savings amount can differ greatly depending on your circumstances, local currency, professional career, and life stage. However, there are useful guidelines which you can follow, and continuing to examine your monthly budget can assist you in finding new ways to save money each month.

How much savings should I have for an emergency?

A useful rule of thumb to follow is to save at least one month’s gross salary to be able to sustain yourself in an emergency. This can help you avoid making large payments which might compromise your existing monthly budget and immediate plans.

How much should I have in savings, generally?

Another useful rule of thumb to follow is to gradually save up to three months’ of your gross remuneration in an interest-bearing savings account which can be accessed without delay. This can enable you to not only have instant access to your funds in the event of a larger emergency but can also assist you in finding new employment should the conditions of your professional career suddenly change.

How much should I save a year?

If you were to save 20% of your income per month, you’d naturally be saving 20% of your income per year - but that doesn’t account for other forms of income or remuneration if you might be entitled to an annual bonus or profit share.

While there’s no guideline as to how much savings you should ultimately have in your account, a useful way to build your wealth is to set up savings goals for each decade.

From what part of income should someone take savings?

If you have a full-time position and a professional career, it’s usually in your best interest to consider investing in savings products from your primary source of income. This is likely to remain stable, and will not be subject to the availability of freelance work or interest rate fluctuations that might see your expected income from an investment reduce.

How much money should I have saved by each decade of my life?

How much money should I have by 30?

In your 30s, you are likely beginning to secure your financial journey by completing your studies and will likely have entered the professional workforce. At this stage, your first priority will likely be to begin paying off all your existing debts. While this may impact your available funds to commit to savings, this in effect is called ‘paying yourself first’ for a reason, as you will be reducing your overall exposure to debt by settling accounts that charge a higher interest rate than what your savings account will most likely offer.

A great goal to set yourself is to set aside at least one year’s gross income by the age of 30, which can help you navigate the early stages of your career and handle expenses as you consider establishing a family.

How much money should I have by 40?

By 40, you have probably considered or have bought property, might have children, or have set yourself concrete life goals. Given these expenses, you’ll likely need capital to be able to not only realise your potential, but further secure the wellbeing of both yourself and your family.

By this stage, it’s advisable to have saved three years worth of your most recent professional salary to not only enable you to afford larger expenses, but to further enable you to capitalise on the power of compound interest and grow your savings steadily.

How much money should I have by 50?

By the age of 50, you’re likely well on your way to cementing your professional career and outlook, and might have various assets - as well as various lifestyle and family expenses.

As you begin to enter the final decades of your working career - where your ability to work will reduce and your physical dependency will increase as time goes on, it’s worthwhile to think towards the future.

By this age milestone, it’s a great endeavor to save at least five times your latest annual income to enable you to progressively invest in high-interest ventures that can help you secure a comfortable retirement into your late 60s or your early 70s.

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