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A Financial Overview of Where You Should Be at 35 Years Old

I’m 35 years old. I’ll admit it. And actually, I’m closing in on 36 here in just a few weeks. I’m always thinking about my finances and I never want to lag behind where I should be for my age…which naturally has me asking the question, “Where should I be financially at 35?

  • What should I have in retirement at this point?
  • Should I be completely out of debt outside of the mortgage?
  • What should be my financial goals at 35?
  • Should I start looking into those adult things…like wills, trusts, umbrella insurance?
  • What’s the best investment strategy for a 35 year old?

If I have these questions, then I bet you do too. Let’s dive in to this one together.

Where Should I Be With Debt at 35?

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Debt… Many think it’s a necessary evil. I disagree, and I’d say if you have debt outside of a home mortgage, you’re likely lagging behind where you should be financially.

Student Loan Debt

At 35 years old, you’ve likely been out of school for 12-13 years and have been in a career for just as long as well. So as for student loans, those should all be gone by now.

For all you doctors and lawyers out there, you may have only been out of school for 5 years or so, but with your higher-than-average income, I’d say your student loans should be paid off as well.

If you still have student loans at 35 years old, you are behind the majority.

Other consumer debt types would be:

  • a car loan
  • medical debt
  • or credit cards

Want to know where you should be financially at 35 years-old? This post will answer your questions.Car Loan

Nearly 50% of adult Americans have an auto loan. If you have one (and it’s $16,000 or less), you’re average, but I’d encourage you to ditch it. With the average new car monthly payment at $563 a month, it’s weighing you down considerably.

And just think, if you didn’t have it, you could bump up your retirement numbers (which I’m just guessing are paltry since you have a car loan to pay every month…but we’ll get to that later. No sense getting ahead of ourselves here!)

Medical Debt

Medical debt is unfortunate. If you have had cancer or if you had a medical emergency, medical debt is understandable. If, however, you have medical debt from regular sniffles and the occasional broken arm, then you’re likely not where you should be financially at 35 years old.

The average 35 year old doesn’t have medical debt. So if you want to be above average financially, I’m hoping you can check this box and say that you’re clear of any medical debt.

Credit Cards

Nearly half of Americans have credit card debt. The average balance is $5,315. If you have less than that, then I guess you could say that you’re ahead of the curve…but I would’t brag too loudly about that one. 

Ideally, by age 35, you shouldn’t have any credit card debt at all. After all, owing a balance on a credit card means you’re paying somewhere around 20% or more in interest on the money you’ve borrowed.

And for what?

  • Entertainment?
  • Shopping splurges?
  • Random bills that popped up and surprised you because you have no savings?

If you’re wondering where you should be financially at age 35 (which is a great question to ask!), then I suspect that you’re smarter than this and you therefore have no credit card debt.

Related: Free Debt Snowball Calculator – How Soon Could You Be Debt Free?

Where should you be financially at 35 years old? Hopefully consumer debt free!

Hopefully, you can say that you have…

  • no student loan debt,
  • no medical debt,
  • no credit card debt, and
  • maybe even no car debt!

If you’re nodding your head right now in agreement and you’re completely consumer debt free, then I applaud you. That’s exactly where a 35 year old should be!

Where Should I Be With Savings at 35?

This is where the conversation starts getting interesting – when we start to talk about savings and retirement. But first, savings.

How much should you have in your savings account at 35?

First off, I’d expect you to be completely consumer debt free, like we just discussed in the section above. 

Beyond that, I would also expect that you’ve had enough time to put a bit of money into savings for a proper emergency fund (3-6 months worth of expenses).

At 35 years old…

  • I’d say that you should have been completely consumer debt free by 32 years old (at the latest),
  • and then had time to sock away money for your emergency fund. This would be somewhere in the realm of $15,000.

So where should you be financially at 35 with your savings?

$15,000 in the bank, my friend.

Where Should I Be With Retirement at 35 years-old?

Here’s where the results could swing wildly. Retirement savings.

Where should I be financially at 35. How much retirement savings should I have.Retirement Savings: The Two Camps

For some, they’ve been out of consumer debt since their mid-20s, they saved up an emergency fund soon after, and then they’ve just been socking away large chunks of money into their retirement ever since. 

For others, they were just able to pay off your student loans a few years ago, they perhaps just barely put together a proper emergency fund, and now they’re looking into how they can invest. ie. they haven’t started yet…

So, the range on a 35 year-old’s retirement fund is anywhere from $0 to $250,000+.

If you have $100,000 or more in retirement, then I’d say you’re still on track.

Just think, if you contributed no more money, but earned 10% per year on the current $100,000, you’d have $1.6 million in just 29 years.

Not too shabby! You’re doing okay! 

Related: Step #11 of 15: Retirement Investing

What’s the Best Investment Strategy for a 35 year-old?

So…perhaps you do have $100k. You might be wondering how you should be investing it. Let’s take a slight sidebar here to answer that question.

For me, I like to keep things simple. I invest roughly half of my nest egg in an S&P Index Fund (the VFIAX Vanguard fund if you’re curious), and the other half into single-family rental houses. My average return has consistently been better than 11% each year between the two. 

I’m no investment professional, so don’t take my words as a recommendation for you, but you know what? It’s working just fine for me, and I don’t see any reason to change my investing style any time soon!


Summing It Up – Debt, Savings, and Retirement as a 35 year-old

If you’ve been keeping tally, at 35 years old, you should:

  • have no consumer debt
  • have $15,000 in savings for emergencies
  • and, you should also have at least $100,000 in your retirement accounts

Overall, your net worth should be $115,000 or more.

If you’re behind, fine. Use this moment as motivation for your future – to get your butt moving toward your golden retirement instead of one mixed with spam and 20-year-old moth-ridden clothing!

What About a House? Should I Own a House at 35 Years Old?

Since many of you are probably asking the question, I didn’t want to leave the home-ownership topic out of the conversation. 

Some of you may already own a house. Others may not. I’m a believer in buying a house once you get out of consumer debt since it contributes to your financial success in life.

Buy a house by 35 years old?After all, with a home purchase, your money is building an appreciating asset. By renting, you’re literally just paying out money to lay your head down in someone else’s house. It’s not doing anything for your future financial success. 

If you aren’t yet ready to settle in one area (or if you’re not emotionally ready to handle the responsibilities of a house), then don’t buy one yet. It’s totally up to you.

BUT, if you currently DO own a house, I would still expect you to have $15,000 in your savings account and $100,000 in your retirement accounts. 

Related: How to Know If You’re Ready to Buy a House

With home ownership, I recommend you do two things:

  • Don’t buy a house that stretches you thin financially (I recommend that people only borrow up to 2x their yearly income, and on a 15-year fixed note)
  • Don’t move often. Try to get into a house that you’ll be content with for 20+ years of your life. Why? Because it’s expensive to buy and sell houses and move all the time.

Additional Financial Advice for a 35 year-old

In case you’re losing track, here’s the answer to the question, “Where should I be financially at 35?” so far…

  • no consumer debt
  • an emergency fund of $15,000
  • a retirement fund of $100,000+
  • and owning a house with payments that don’t leave you strapped for cash each month

And finally, just a few more housekeeping items for financial planning at 35…

Get Life Insurance

If you have a spouse, kids, or anyone else that depends on your income (and you’re not a multi-millionaire), then you need life insurance

  • I only recommend term life insurance – which means you’ll be covered for a certain number of years (until you’re wealthy enough to be self-insured later in life).
  • If you’re young and healthy, get a 20-year policy since it’s super cheap and you can lock in those rates
  • I personally went through SelectQuote to find the best rates, and I believe they did that for me. But, the process was pretty long and drawn-out.

If you don’t want to wait around and jump through a bunch of hoops for life insurance, then I’d recommend one of my affiliate partners, Bestow.

Bestow Life Insurance

I really am quite impressed with this company. Check out what makes them awesome in the bullet points below. Does it resonate with you?

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If you don’t have life insurance, I highly recommend you get an immediate quote from them.

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…and find out what the cost is in a matter of minutes! 

Set Up a Will

If you don’t have a will, then shame on you.

Especially if you have a spouse and kids, you should have a will! And, even if you don’t, you likely have assets that could really help out your friends or family in the event of your passing. 

Or, think about it this way. If you die, do you really want the government to decide what’s best for your money and loved ones? I wouldn’t! That’s why I set up my will years ago, and why you should too!

I don’t partner with anyone on this yet (I really should), but I’ve heard of LegalZoom for quite some time now. Their reviews are good, their pricing is reasonable ($89 currently), and you can get started on it immediately! Just click this link to get started.  

things you should be saving forStart Giving

After digging your way out of debt, developing a savings account, and doing your best to carve out money for a proper retirement account, it can be tough to open up your pocket and start giving. You’ve spent all these years trying to fight for your financial future, and now I’m telling you to start giving money away?

Yes, yes I am.

If you’re like most 35 year-olds, you’ve paid off your consumer debts and you’re looking at the next chapter in your life. 

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about yourself less and about those around you more.

Start by giving a bit of your time and dollars to a charity that’s near and dear to your heart.

  • Maybe that’s elderly people.
  • Maybe it’s kids.
  • Or perhaps it’s middle-aged adults trying to get back on their feet after some jail time. 

Whatever it is, when you start giving money to a cause, two things happen:

  1. You suddenly realize how much they need your gift
  2. You realize how good you’ve really got it

It becomes way easier to stop buying crap and actually grow as a person when you are content in this world.

Start giving. You won’t regret it.

Related: Step #7: Start Giving

Don’t Forget About Kids’ College

And finally, if you’ve got kiddos, you’re going to want to start to think about funding a bit of college soon. After all, it’s really getting CRAZY expensive!

Not sure how much to save per month? I’ve got your covered –> Free College Investment Calculator

“Where Should I Be Financially at 35…?” How Did You Do?

Well, how are you matching up? Are you where you should be at 35 years old?

Here’s my opinion of how well you should be doing financially at 35 years old.

  • No credit card debt
  • No student loan debt
  • No car debt
  • $15,000 in savings
  • $100,000 in your retirement account
  • Have life insurance
  • Have a will
  • You’re giving
  • And you’re saving for kid’s college 

Yeah…it’s a lot I know! But you know what? You’re an adult now and the above is simply the responsible place to be – for you, for your spouse, and for your kids!!

Not there yet? 

It’s not the end of the world, but I have to be honest…it’s a concern. If you don’t get on track soon, you could be left terribly behind. With each passing year that you lag, it’s going to be harder and harder to catch up. Don’t wait any longer! Ditch your debt, save up your emergency fund, and invest heavily for your future!!

How are you doing? Are you on track financially for a 35 year old?

Grow Rich Money


My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

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