A common dream shared by many hardworking individuals is to one day have enough money to quit working and to live life independently on their own terms. More than that, many people will reach a point when they simply are not physically or mentally able to continue working. Saving money may be a strong desire, but you can see that it is also a necessity. Saving a substantial amount of money is not accomplished overnight, and you need to gradually accumulate more wealth over the years through small, regular savings deposits and investments. With a closer look at where you should be in each stage of life, you can determine if you are on track to accomplish your retirement goals.

In Your Young Adult Years

It can be difficult to save money in your young adult years. However, the benefits of time, compounded interest and dividend re-investments are on your side at this stage in life. Even as a young adult with a modest income, you should be able to adjust your lifestyle so that you can save between 10 and 20 percent of your income. By doing so, you may be able to accumulate $30,000 to $100,000 or more by the time you reach 30 years old.

In Your Middle Age Years

Financial challenges are common in middle age. This is the time when you may have kids and a mortgage, but you also may be trying to pay off credit card and student loan debt accumulated in your young adult years. Nonetheless, saving should still be a priority, and you should be saving more now as your income level has likely increased. Depending on your income level, you should be saving between 20 to 30 percent of your income in most cases. By the time you reach 45 years old, you may have a quarter to a half-million dollars in your accounts.

As You Approach Retirement

As you get closer to retiring, your outstanding debts may be paid off. This may include credit cards, student loan debts, cars and even the house. You may be living with very few expenses, and your income level may be at an all-time high. With this in mind, you may be able to easily save between 35-45 percent of your income, if not more. Many people will be able to retire with approximately one million to $1.3 million in assets.

Your ability to save is based as much on your income level as your lifestyle. Many with a modest income are able to adjust their lifestyle to save throughout their lives and to reach their milestone retirement goal. Some with high income live a lavish lifestyle and are unable to save as a result. Consider scaling back your spending habits and focus on debt reduction and savings to improve your financial status.