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What’s the average 401(k) balance by age?

If you worry about coming up short, you can make small moves today to boost your 401(k) balance by retirement.

The average 401(k) balance is $104,400 as reported by Fidelity, one of the biggest 401(k) providers in the country. But while even that number can seem unattainable to many, it’s far short of what experts say most of us will need. There are plenty of steps you can take to boost your retirement savings.

How much does the average person need for retirement?

Most financial advisors recommend you have at least $1 million stocked away by retirement. But according to data by Fidelity investments, the average 410(k) account balance is only $182,100 for people between the ages of 60 to 69.

How much does the average person have saved in a 401(k) by age 29?

The average 401(k) account balance for someone between the ages of 20 to 29 is $10,500. This group on average contributes 7% of their salary toward their 401(k) plans.

How much does the average person have saved in a 401(k) by age 39?

The average 401(k) account balance for someone between the ages 30 to 39 is $38,400. These investors save at an average rate of 8%.

How much does the average person have saved in a 401(k) by age 49?

The average 401(k) account balance for someone between the ages of 40 to 49 is $93,400. Their average contribution rate is 8%.

How much does the average person have saved in a 401(k) by age 59?

Investors between the ages of 50 to 59 have an average of $160,000 saved in their 401(k) plans. They contribute at an average rate of 10%.

How much does the average person have saved in a 401(k) by age 69?

People between the ages of 60 to 69 have an average of $182,100 saved in their 401(k) plans. They contribute at an average rate of 11%.

What steps can I take to invest more in my 401(k)?

If these numbers seem intimidating to you, don’t worry. There are plenty of strategies to enhance your retirement savings. For starters, consider increasing your contribution rate every year, especially if your income grows.

Even a slight bump in savings can generate large returns. Let’s say you’re 35 and you make $50,000 a year. If you raise your contribution rate from 3% to 5%, you’d be contributing $2,500 each year. Assuming a 12% rate of return, your savings can grow to about $670,000 by the time you turn 65, even without an employer contribution.

You should also take a close look at your retirement plans. What are the administrative and management fees? What fees — also called expense ratios — are your funds charging? This information can be found in a fund prospectus, which your 401(k) provider should send you.

If you find the fees are too high, consider only contributing enough to get a company match if offered. The rest of your retirement savings can go into different accounts like traditional or Roth IRAs.

What other things can I do to financially prepare for retirement?

A 401(k) isn’t the only retirement savings vehicle out there. In fact, high fees and a lack of strong investment options from your 401(k) may be putting you at a disadvantage. Look into these alternatives.

  • Traditional IRA: An IRA works similarly to a 401(k) plan. You contribute pretax dollars which grow tax-free until you withdraw the money at retirement. However, IRAs give you more investment options than a traditional 401(k). IRA providers also charge competitive management fees with some as low as 0%.
  • Roth IRA: This retirement savings vehicle is funded with after-tax dollars. But qualified withdrawals at retirement are tax-free. Also withdraw your contributions if needed without penalty.
  • Brokerage account: Also called a taxable account, this is your standard investing account. You can create your own portfolio by purchasing stocks, ETFs, bonds and other securities.These don’t offer as many tax benefits as IRAs but brokerage accounts are more liquid. Withdraw funds without penalty and there are no contribution limits.
  • Health Savings Account (HSA): If you have a high-deductible health plan, you can pair it with an HSA. These are investment accounts that help you pay for healthcare expenses.Money you contribute to an HSA is tax-deductible and grows tax-free. Withdraw contributions and earnings tax-free for qualified healthcare expenses.
  • Robo-advisor: These are automated portfolios typically built with low-cost ETFs. An algorithm designs one based on your individual goals and financial circumstances. Robo-advisors usually automatically rebalance your portfolio over time, so it can be a great choice for the set-it-and-forget-it investor. Most robo-advisors let you choose from IRAs, Roth IRAs and taxable accounts.

Compare retirement accounts

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Name Product Annual fee Available asset types
$1 per month

Invest your spare change. Anyone can grow wealth.
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
A beginner-friendly broker that offers paper trading, so you can try the platform before depositing funds.
SoFi Automated
$0 per month
Put your money to work. Let SoFi build and manage a portfolio for you. Pay zero SoFi management fees.
0.25% on balances up to $99,999

0.4% on balances of $100,000+
Stocks, Bonds
Betterment's automatic investment site aims to improve your returns and support good financial habits with passive investing and financial planning support.

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: The value of any investment can go up or down depending on news, trends and market conditions. We are not investment advisers, so do your own due diligence to understand the risks before you invest.

Bottom line

These average 401(k) balances may leave you feeling short of where you need to be, but remember that higher earners can highly skew this number. And savings goals vary across people in different age groups.

Regardless where you are, you can take steps to boost your retirement savings today. Gradually boost your contribution rate and be aware of fees to put you on the right path.

And consider different investing platforms when saving for retirement. You may find lower fees, better investment options and other financial resources by saving outside your 401(k).

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