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Let's get right to the point – it means nothing if someone has reached age 30 and not begun to save money for the future.

A U.S. personal finance expert recently caused a bit of a fuss when she suggested that people should aim to have their annual salary saved by the time they're 30, three times their salary at 40, six times at 50, eight times by 60 and 10 times by retirement. The response from some young adults was amused skepticism. A lot of them are fighting to get their careers going and don't see themselves able to save that much by 30.

Rules about saving are helpful because they give people benchmarks to strive for. But they can be a turn-off to people who feel they'll never make the grade. They may tune out or give up, rather than trying to save as much as they can now or in the future.

A savings goal for 30-year-olds is useful, but let's refine it. If you landed a full-time job in your field after graduation or made a success of temporary work, then having the equivalent of one year's salary saved is a great goal.

But it's fine if a young adult hasn't saved a dime by age 30. Longer lifespans mean today's 30-year-old will quite possibly work until close to 70, and live another 20 years or more. You could just start a career at 30 and have 40 years of saving until retirement. The best advice is to save as much as you can, as soon as you can. Whether that happens at 25, 30 or 35 doesn't much matter.

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Rob's personal finance reading list…

Preparing for disaster at home
A persuasive argument to inventory your personal possessions in case of a disaster like a flood or fire. Your insurance claim will go much more smoothly. Include pictures and video if you can.

12 affordable travel adventures
Fun browsing here for people planning a big trip. Sorry, the prices are in U.S. dollars.

Myths about co-signing for a mortgage
A mortgage broker explains how finding a co-signer isn't always a big problem-solver. Worth a read if you're a parent planning to co-sign an adult child's mortgage loan or a young adult hoping to get this kind of help from a family member.

How big a turkey should you buy?
If you're hosting dinner over the holiday season, check out this guideline on the size of turkey you'll need based on the number of guests. This advice is pegged to American Thanksgiving, but it applies just as well to Christmas and other occasions.

Today's featured financial tool
The MoneyFit Challenge is a financial literacy tool launched in collaboration with the federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Lots of content here on budgeting, debt and saving.

Ask Rob
The question: "How does one wade through the massive exchange-traded fund market and find something useful for a 75-year-old?"

The answer: Two thoughts – check out my Globe and Mail ETF Buyers' Guide, or consider a robo-adviser. You'll get a personalized portfolio of ETFs set up and managed for you at a reasonable cost. Because they primarily operate online, robos are sometimes thought of as an option for young people. However, they are capable of managing money for all age groups.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

What I've been writing about
– One in two Canadians is a bundle of nerves about money
– How seniors moving in together can protect their retirement savings
– Two of the scariest words in personal finance today are 'investment property' (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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