Retirement Planning in Your 30s

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If you've been working in the school system for awhile, you know that courses generally get more demanding as time goes on. In your 30s, you may start to face more demands on your earnings. Buying a home and supporting a family can make it hard to save, but you still have a long time until retirement, so small amounts put aside for the future have time to grow. If you set aside money for retirement now, it will be that much easier to retire comfortably. Use this checklist to put your savings to work for a rewarding retirement.

  • Learn about your CalSTRS or CalPERS retirement benefits. You’ll find links to benefits counseling, workshops, benefits calculators and more at and
  • Attend the "CalSTRS Fundamentals" workshop.
  • Sign up for your 403(b) or 457 retirement savings plan if you haven't already. Your CalSTRS or CalPERS benefit will not replace your entire pre-retirement salary, so it's important to supplement your pension with voluntary plans such as a 403(b), 457 or individual retirement account (IRA). Contact your district administrator for enrollment materials.
  • Calculate how much you need to save. Most educators find they need to replace 90% to 100% of their pre-retirement income to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in retirement – even more if retiree medical insurance is not available through your district. Click here for a retirement savings calculator.
  • Determine your savings strategy. If you haven’t already mapped out a retirement plan and calculated how much you will need to live comfortably in retirement, now is the time to determine the best savings strategy for your goals.
  • Use the information on this site to learn more about your investing options.
  • Contribute as much as you can to your 403(b) or 457 plan. This is an ideal time to invest for your future, no matter how big or small the amount. You have time on your side, and even the modest amount of money you save early on can add up to a comfortable nest egg years from now. The average age of a CalPERS retiree is 60 years; the average CalSTRS retiree is 61.3 years.
  • Rebalance your investments regularly. Rebalancing can help ensure that your portfolio matches your timeline, goals and risk tolerance. Rebalancing (adjusting the percentage of your portfolio invested in stocks, bonds or other investment products) helps keep your nest egg growing.
  • Create or update your estate plan. Due to changes in your personal and financial situation, you may need to update your beneficiaries. Make sure that primary and contingent beneficiaries on retirement plans, brokerage accounts, life insurance and other assets not controlled by your will are up-to-date. Learn more about choosing a beneficiary for your 403(b).
  • Learn more about life and disability insurance. Find out if life and disability insurance are offered through your district and determine your appropriate level of coverage. Looking ahead, life insurance needs may be reduced in retirement, but you may benefit by locking in lower rates while you're in good health.