How much you should have in savings at each life stage

Spending can be a whole lot more enjoyable than saving.

But when life throws a nasty curveball and you wind up in the hospital or your car dies on the interstate, you’ll definitely want a financial cushion to fall back on.

At the most basic level, savings enable you and your family to enjoy the freedom associated with money and avoid the pain of debt.

There are two main reasons to set money aside: insurance against bad financial weather and funding your retirement. You might also save for a down payment on a house or for your wedding, but the first two are the must-haves.

Many people, however, aren’t saving enough. In fact, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, nearly half of all Americans are at risk of having a lower standard of living in retirement.

And when it comes to emergency savings, only 41 percent of Americans would pay for an unexpected $1,000 charge out of their savings, according to a Bankrate survey.

Of course, everyone’s financial situation is different. So, think of these savings targets as less of an exact number and more of a general guide. It will show you how your personal savings and retirement account balances stack up to the averages. Below you’ll find a full savings guide that estimates how much you should have in savings and your retirement accounts right now, and at different age milestones over the course of your life.