How Much Should You *Really* Be Saving?

News flash: It's different for everyone

hang holding a house with money falling on it

It’s become something of a trend for people to talk shit about millennials, especially when it comes to finances. Remember when Australian millionaire Tim Gurner said the reason none of us are homeowners is because we’re spending too much money on avocado toast? Sure, we love a good smashed avo (especially with a sprinkle of feta), but the comment elicited eye-rolls from young people around the world for its super out-of-touch POV. So, on Wednesday, when the financial editor of The Today Show, Jean Chatzky, tweeted her opinion on how much you should have saved by the time you’re 30, it pissed off and/or panicked a lot of generation Y-ers.

People’s reactions to the viral tweet were hilarious.

A lot of Twitter users also noted how classist these benchmarks seem when put to practice…

Mostly, Chatzky’s advice made us feel like this:

smiling cartoon dog in room full of flames saying "this is fine"

(Photo: GIPHY)

Chatzky did reply after receiving all the negative feedback…

…but it still seems like she doesn’t quite get how out of reach her goals are for the majority of people.

So, we turned to FLARE’s resident moolah guru, Desirae Odjick, to ask about Chatzky’s saving benchmarks and if there really is a specific dollar amount we should be saving each month. While Chatzky’s plan feels v. aggressive, Odjick says it’s still one of the best ways to ensure you have enough money to retire someday. But don’t let that freak you out! It’s important to remember that, “there are a lot of other structural things—especially right now and especially for millennials— that make this especially terrifying,” Odjick said. “So much is out of your hands. You might not start working full time right at 22, you might go back to school, you might be a freelancer… A lot of factors make this advice hard to swallow.”

If you’re in one of those non-traditional scenarios (ha, aren’t we all?), “something you might be more comfortable with is saving 10 percent of your pre-tax income every month and putting that away for retirement,” said Odjick. But 10 percent is very much the gold standard, and with an entry-level salary and rent in an expensive city, even that may be a stretch.

The key is to save whatever you can. “If you can save just $20 a month and get into that habit of saving, that’s great,” Odjick said.

Of course, once you have that money tucked away, you need to figure out how to invest it. “Investing can be intimidating, but there are services that can make investing easy, painless and can provide you with a solid investment portfolio, even if you’re only contributing $20 per month.”

In the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all number that you should be aiming to have by the time you retire.

“It comes down to spending,” said Odjick. “If you spend next-to-nothing, you won’t need as much to maintain that lifestyle in retirement.”

Want to Buy a Home Now That the Market’s Less Nuts? Do This First
Desirae Odjick on Ontario’s $15 Minimum Wage: Is It Good or Bad?
“Giant Eye-Roll”: We Asked a Money Pro About that Avocado Toast Advice