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Adding Up the 401(k) Savings

2018-07-03T11:35:05+00:00July 2nd, 2018|

Much of the discussion around retirements is rightfully focused on the large numbers of people who are not saving enough. But The Washington Post recently shared some positive information:

The number of workers with $1 million or more in their 401(k) increased to 157,000 at the end of the first quarter this year, an increase of 45 percent compared with the same time a year earlier, according to Fidelity Investments, one of the country’s largest administrators of workplace retirement accounts.

“There’s no doubt that many of Fidelity’s 401(k) millionaires have benefited from the market’s positive performance, but they also exhibit many of the behaviors we recommend to make the most of your savings,” said Jeanne Thompson, senior vice president for Fidelity. “They contribute enough to get their full company match, they’re less likely to take 401(k) loans, they don’t cash out when changing jobs and they invest for growth — on average, 401(k) millionaires hold 76 percent of their savings in equity mutual funds.”

Workers can now contribute up to $18,500 each year to a workplace plan such as a 401(k) or the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). If you’re over 50, there’s a catch-up provision that allows you to contribute up to $24,000 to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Fidelity’s analysis of first quarter data also found the following.

  • Workers who have saved in their company’s 401(k) for 10 years had a record high average account balance of $290,100, compared with $250,500 a year ago.
  • Those employees who have saved for 15 years had an average balance of $379,600, up from $330,200 a year ago.

“Although found at many grade levels and in nearly every agency throughout the country, all of the people in the million-plus column have the same things in common: they have invested for the long haul, and invested heavily or exclusively in the stock-indexed C and S funds,” Mike Causey of Federal News Radio wrote. “When markets drop dramatically — as they did in 1997 and during the Great Recession — they continue to purchase stocks getting more shares each pay period because they are investing the same amount of money, which purchases a larger share of the C and S funds. Also, all of those eligible for it have taken advantage of the total 5 percent match available from their agency.”

Tom Schuman is the senior vice president of communications & operations for the Indiana Chamber. He is also the editor of the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice magazine and has been with the organization for 20 years.