Average 401k Balance by Age 2024 [Complete Breakdown By Age]

Updated On: 08/30/2023
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You've been diligently contributing to your 401k plan with each paycheck, and as you inch towards retirement, you might find yourself mulling over the numbers.

Are you on the right track? One of the most common ways to answer this question is by comparing your savings to the average 401k balance by age.

Since retirement planning largely depends on income, expenses, lifestyle, and many other factors, pinning down that "right" number can be complex.

But don't worry! Let's look at the average 401k balances in different age groups and understand how you stack up against them on this financial journey.

Factors That Influence The Actual Worth Of Your Retirement Funds

Factors That Influence The Actual Worth Of Your Retirement Funds

Before jumping right into the average 401k balance by age, it's vital to grasp the many factors that can influence the actual value of your retirement funds.

These factors are not limited to your 401k and may include other accounts and financial obligations.

You'll gain a broader perspective on where you stand and what you may need to consider for a comfortable retirement.

IRA Accounts

One of the elements that can significantly impact the worth of your retirement funds is having an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). An IRA is another tax-advantaged investment tool, similar to your 401k plan, but often offers more investment options.

Traditional IRAs can lower your taxable income now. At the same time, a Roth IRA has its contributions taxed upfront, which could benefit you if you anticipate being in a higher tax bracket in retirement.

Also Read: Healthcare Costs By Country [2023 Latest Statistics]

Pensions

Pension plans are becoming less common as 401ks take center stage, but find cruise if you're one of those with this traditional form of guaranteed lifetime income.

Both public and private entities might offer pension plans, which promise predetermined monthly payouts during retirement based on factors like length of service and ending salary.

If you have a pension plan, that's another asset increasing the actual worth of your retirement funds.

Social Security

For most American workers, Social Security benefits form the bedrock of their retirements. After all, it’s guaranteed income for life, provided you have at least ten years' worth of work history.

So, while Social Security is not technically part of your savings like a 401k or an IRA might be, it’s essential to include these future cash inflows when considering how much money accumulated for later in life.

Debt

Debt tends to be an aspect most people don't consider when evaluating their net worth heading into retirement.

However, because it subtracts from your net savings, it's essential to consider this when planning for retirement. Hence, if you hold significant debt - such as mortgage debt, credit card debt, or student loans - understand this will impact your financial standing adversely by eating away at those hard-earned savings over time.

Savings Accounts

Your personal savings accounts also play an essential role in your retirement fund. These accounts can cushy unexpected expenses that may crop up during your golden years.

While these low-interest earning accounts shouldn't necessarily be your primary retirement saving strategy, they can be a significant component of a diversified plan, providing you with readily accessible funds in emergencies.

Brokerage Accounts

Brokerage accounts are often overlooked as part of the retirement picture, but they should absolutely be considered when calculating your overall worth for retirement.

These accounts can hold various investments like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, offering a potential means to grow wealth outside of tax-advantaged retirement plans.

As these accounts fall outside the tax benefits that IRAs or 401(k)s offer, they do come with their tax implications.

Nevertheless, their strong earning potential makes them worth considering for an additional layer to your financial strategy.

Taxes

The impact of taxes on your retirement savings is quite significant. The nature of your 401k (traditional or Roth) will determine how your withdrawals would be taxed upon retirement.

Taxes like brokerage or savings account interest income can also affect your non-retirement investment accounts.

It's important to consider that most withdrawals from retirement savings are taxable income unless they're made through Roth-style plans where you're taxed upfront.

Investment Returns

Investment returns will significantly influence the actual value of your retirement funds over time. This refers to earnings from equities (stocks), fixed-income securities (bonds), or other investment speculation within 401k or brokerage accounts.

These returns are often hard to predict as market performance can fluctuate throughout the years; however, sound investing principles such as diversification and rebalancing can mitigate undue risks while maximizing profits.

Average 401k Balance By Age

The average 401k balance by age varies as it largely depends on an individual's consistent contributions, the timeframe of those contributions, and the rate of return. According to Fidelity Q2 2023 Retirement Analysis, the breakdown is roughly as below:

Average 401(k) account balance, Under Age 25

Typically, individuals under 25 are just starting their professional journey. They might still be working part-time or entry-level positions that may not offer a high salary or hefty benefits package. As a result, the median 401k balance sits at a humble $1,786 for this age group and an average of $6,264.

It's still early days for this demographic; hence, formulating healthy saving habits rather than focusing on the absolute number is vital.

Young savers should concentrate more on making regular contributions early and taking full advantage of compounding interest; time is indeed their ally.

In addition to these figures, Fidelity’s report says that as of Q1 of 2021, the participation rate for eligible employees in this sector stood at around 44%, indicative that Gen Z is getting off on the right foot.

Average 401(k) account balance, Ages 25-34

A noticeable leap is seen when looking at average and median balances for those ages 25-34 from workers who've started to gain traction in their careers.

Their median retirement account climbs to around $14,068 while they hold an average of approximately $37,211 in their accounts.

This jump indicates this demographic has typically moved beyond novice work roles into steadier employment situations with better earnings potentials and benefits packages.

Also noteworthy is data from Vanguard’s "How America Saves” report stating this group sees around a strong contribution rate -73% - significant proof that millennials care about saving for their future retirement.

Average 401(k) account balance, Ages 35-44

Heading into the ages of 35-44, these established professionals witness a considerable augmentation in their retirement reserves as their median 401k balance grows to roughly $36,117 and an average account holding of about $97,020.

Within this phase, individuals are ordinarily experiencing peak earning years and, thus, better positioned to contribute more towards their retirement savings.

This age group will also likely benefit from several years' worth of company matches (if offered) and investment returns.

They've likely had time to learn about intelligent investment options for their accounts, too. Vanguard reports that overall contribution rates for this demographic remain steady at around 82%.

Also Read: Average Wedding Costs By State [2023 Latest Statistics]

Average 401(k) account balance, Ages 45-54

The median and average balances continue to spike for those aged 45-54: median at approximately $61,530 and an average savings pot of around $179,200.

But why does this happen? Well, during these years, folks usually reach their career's zenith. With mortgage payments reducing and offspring gradually becoming more financially independent, this demographic can channel more funds toward retirement savings.

Also notable among this age group were pretty high contribution rates—89% according to Vanguard—which suggests a strong awareness of the looming retirement horizon.

They must accumulate assets and protect what they've built up until now by maintaining a well-diversified portfolio.

Average 401(k) account balance, Ages 55-64

As workers approach their retirement years, it's reasonable to expect a significant jump in their retirement savings. Indeed, for the age bracket of 55-64, the median 401k balance soars to $89,716, while the average balance averages about $256,244.

This tendency can be attributed to a few factors. First, these savers have more time to benefit from market gains and contribute to their funds.

Additionally, the IRS allows those aged 50+ to make “catch-up” contributions (an extra $6,500 annually on top of the standard limit of $19,500 in 2021), helping boost savers’ drawers later in their careers.

Average 401(k) account balance, Ages 65 and Older

The median and average retirement balances for those aged 65 and older are remarkably consistent with the prior age group at roughly $87,725 and $279,997, respectively.

It's important to point out that individuals often start making withdrawals from their accounts after reaching the age of 70½ years old (the new law extends this to age 72), impacting these stats.

Another critical dynamic affecting this group is a shift away from risky investments towards safer yet less lucrative investment options that stabilize account balances.

Essential Steps You Can Take To Achieve Your Retirement Objectives

Essential Steps You Can Take To Achieve Your Retirement Objectives

Planning for your retirement can be a complicated process. While having a good income and being diligent with your 401k contributions is essential, there are several other steps you might want to consider to reach and surpass your retirement objectives.

Here are some constructive measures to ensure a comfortable and worry-free retirement starting today.

Set Clear Goals

Goal-setting is the primary step toward a successful retirement plan. Understand what you expect in retirement: Is it exploring the world? Or simply spending time with loved ones at home?

Consider future monthly expenses, healthcare costs, and inflation. They'll play critical roles in determining your "magic number."

And while setting these goals, remember that specificity is crucial. The more precise your plan, the easier it becomes to measure progress and make necessary adjustments.

Create a Budget

A well-crafted budget reflects reality against aspirations. It ensures you consciously direct where your money should go rather than wondering where it went!

Distinguish between needs and wants; prioritize what truly matters. Your budget must also account for unexpected medical emergencies or significant life events disrupting financial patterns. Remember to incorporate short-term as well as long-term objectives into it.

Start Early

Time is a fund’s best friend -- starting early gives money more time to grow due to compounding interest. Invest as much as you feasibly can from an early career stage.

Little that amount may seem initially. An excellent manner of enforcing this discipline is by setting up automatic contributions from each paycheck straight into your 401k or IRA.

Contribute To Retirement Accounts

Maximize contributions into tax-advantaged retirement accounts like 401k and IRAs every year without fail. Taking full advantage of employer matching programs is also highly beneficial because it's essentially "free" money being added to your nest egg!

Certainly not eligible for every American worker, but if offered in yours, take note; it's unwise to leave such golden opportunities untapped!

Diversify Investments

All eggs shouldn't be put in one basket — diversification reduces risk exposure by spreading investments across different types of assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate, etc., each delivering varying yields while reacting differently under similar market conditions.

A well-diversified portfolio helps cushion against inevitable market downturns while offering potential growth opportunities.

Regularly Review and Adjust Your Plan

Think of your financial plan like a garden! Monitor progress regularly, ensuring you're on track towards achieving set goals, which may involve pruning some investments or helping others grow more fruitfully based on current financial climate shifts.

Keep informed about changing laws or new investment strategies that could enhance this planning over time.

Minimize Debt

One of the hindrances to a comfortable retirement can be the amount of debt you carry into your non-working years. High-interest obligations like credit card debt can erode your retirement savings faster than you think.

Therefore, making it a priority to diminish or eliminate these debts before retirement can make a substantial difference to your monthly budget and overall financial future.

Consider Healthcare Costs

With advancing age comes the increasing probability of health issues, making healthcare costs a critical factor in retirement planning.

Factors like insurance premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, and long-term care costs should be factored into your planning processes.

Initiatives like investing in Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) that provide triple tax advantages can be one way to earmark funds for potential healthcare necessities.

Plan for Social Security

While social security shouldn't be considered the central pillar of your retirement plan, it's still an integral part of most Americans' post-retirement income.

Understanding when to start taking benefits, waiting until full retirement age, or even post that can substantially increase lifetime benefit amounts.

A well-informed decision considering factors like life expectancy need for income, etc., on when to start claiming these benefits proves beneficial in the long run.

Explore Additional Income Streams

Relying solely on 401k savings or social security might fall short of providing you with the dream retirement lifestyle.

Hence, it becomes essential to consider additional income streams like rental properties, part-time work, or starting your small business post-retirement.

This step not only provides added financial security but maintains engagement within societal structures, too.

Long-Term Care Planning

A massive chunk of retirees’ budgets is typically blown on long-term care facilities with climbing costs due to aging health systems and longevity patterns remarkably upon us today more than ever before!

Planning by examining various long-term care options, such as in-home nursing services or assisted living facilities backed by smartly purchased long-term care insurance policies that suitably cater to individual necessities well ahead of time, is a solid, proactive approach worth considering while crafting your financial roadmap.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is integral to retirement planning and isn't just pertinent for the wealthy. It involves arranging who will receive your assets after your death, ensuring your loved ones are cared for, and your wishes are fulfilled.

This could mean preventing a sizable chunk of inheritance from vanishing due to taxes or family disputes. Therefore, a current and comprehensive will or trust is essential.

Stay Informed

Financial markets fluctuate, laws change, and tax codes get revised – staying informed about these changes helps you make strategic adjustments to your retirement plan.

Regularly read reliable financial publications and government updates related to Social Security and tax laws.

The more connected you stay with these shifts in the landscape, the more control you have over your financial future.

Seek Professional Advice

While there’s a growing collective push towards self-sufficiency in managing finances thanks to convenient digital tools and resources today, seeking professional advice when in doubt can prove beneficial for complex situations.

Financial advisors can provide expert guidance on investment strategies and tax-saving opportunities or help navigate seas of uncertainty during volatile market conditions. However, remember that even though it's their job to advise, final decisions always rest with you!

Maintain Flexibility

While having a plan in place is crucial, rigid adherence might do more harm than good. Life is unpredictable - careers altar unforeseen life events occur; hence, adaptability is essential within any well-tuned retirement plan.

Regular check-ins on progress against goals established and adjusting wherever necessary can better prepare you for whatever life throws at you while striving towards your golden retirement dreams.

FAQs About Average 401k Balance By Age

What is the average 401k balance for individuals in their early 30s?

People between the ages of 25 and 34 typically have an average 401k balance of around $37,211.

Does starting to save for retirement in my early 20s make a significant difference?

Yes, beginning to invest in your 401k early on allows you to take advantage of compound interest, potentially resulting in significantly larger savings at retirement.

How does the average 401k balance change as you age?

As expected, the average account balance generally increases with age as individuals continue making contributions and receive investment returns.

What should I do if my 401k balance is below-average for my age group?

Consider contributing more consistently or increasing your contribution percentage while reviewing investing strategies to achieve more aggressive growth within your manageable limits.

Conclusion

Planning for retirement and gauging whether you are on track can seem daunting. Yet, by breaking it down into manageable steps and keeping tabs on average 401k balances by age, you can gain clarity about your financial standing. Everyone's journey is unique – these numbers serve as guidelines rather than absolute targets.

Building financially secure golden years is about saving aggressively and being informed, crafting meticulous plans, taking calculated risks, and remaining adaptable to changing life scenarios. Regularly review your progress and make adjustments as needed. Happy retirement planning!

Michael Restiano

I support product content strategy for Salt Money. Additionally, I’m helping develop content strategy and processes to deliver quality work for our readers.

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