Nest Eggs Across America: Retirement Savings Near Six Figures

Nest Eggs Across America: Retirement Savings Near Six Figures

We’ll give you the good news first: The average worker’s 401(k) balance reached record highs in 2013.

The rub? At least half of American employees still haven’t saved anywhere near what they’ll need to fund their golden years.

How’s that possible? It all comes down to statistics—specifically the difference between the average and the median.

According to a recent analysis from Vanguard, people who contribute to employer-sponsored retirement plans had, on average, $101,650 socked away at the end of 2013, which was a whopping 17.9% higher than balances in 2012. Vanguard attributes the trend not only to recent surges in stock values, but also to steadily increasing contributions to retirement accounts. On average, employees dedicated $8,327 to their retirement accounts in 2013, compared to $7,144 back in 2009.


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Data from Fidelity Investments tells a similar story. At the end of last year, the average 401(k) balance was $89,300, which is 15.5% higher than the end of 2012.

But the median account balance at Vanguard was $31,396 at the end of 2013, meaning half of workers had more than that amount saved, while half had put away less. Similarly, other research found that, in March 2014, Americans’ median 401(k) balance was just $24,400.

There isn’t necessarily one single reason why many Americans are failing to save sufficiently for retirement. But one issue is the fact that some workers don’t roll over their retirement accounts to 401(k)s or IRAs when they switch jobs. As many as 35% of employees with Fidelity accounts who left a job during the first nine months of 2013 opted to cash out their 401(k) balances.

Want to be one of those people saving much, much more than the median amount for your future? Check out our guide to setting up a retirement account that fits your financial needs.


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