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Here's the Average 401(k) and IRA Balance. How Does Yours Compare?

By Maurie Backman – Updated Aug 20, 2021 at 10:29AM

Key Points

  • It's important to have a retirement income source outside of Social Security.
  • The more money you're able to save independently, the better.
  • Here's what the typical worker has socked away to date.

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Want to know how you're doing with your savings? Here's what the typical worker has socked away.

In case you didn't get the memo, you probably shouldn't rely on Social Security too heavily to pay the bills in retirement. Those benefits will only replace about 40% of your income if you're an average earner, and let's face it -- if you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, that won't be enough.

That's why it's important to consistently fund a 401(k) or IRA for as long as you can during your career. The money you sock away in that account can serve as a nice supplement to Social Security.

You may be wondering how well you're doing on the retirement savings front. And Fidelity has some answers.

Person at laptop

Image source: Getty Images.

Retirement plan balances are up

The average Fidelity 401(k) balance increased to $129,300 during 2020's second quarter, up 24% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the average IRA balance last quarter was $134,900, a 21% increase from the second quarter of 2020.

To be fair, we don't know the average age of those with retirement plans at Fidelity, so it's hard to give these numbers a fair assessment. Either balance is impressive for a worker in their 20s or even 30s. But older workers with these balances may have some catching up to do.

Is your retirement plan in good shape?

If your savings balance is comparable to the figures listed above, you might think you're doing pretty well. But if your balance is nowhere close, then you may need to make some changes that allow you to ramp up your contributions. Similarly, if you're in your 50s or 60s with anywhere from $129,300 to $134,900 in savings, you'll probably want to pick up the pace while you still have time left in the workforce.

A good bet for ramping up on savings is to get yourself on a budget. Having your bills and expenses mapped out for you will help you carve out more money for your retirement plan.

You may also want to think about supplementing your regular paycheck with earnings from a side job. Side hustles aren't just for millennials seeking to boost their travel budgets. Workers of any age can benefit from getting a second job. And if you're short on retirement savings, the earnings from your side job can go directly into your 401(k) or IRA since that money won't be earmarked for existing bills.

Should the average 401(k) or IRA balance even matter to you?

For the most part, it really doesn't pay to harp on what other people have saved for retirement. The reality is that you might have a lot more money socked away than the average American, but it still may not be enough to buy the retirement you want.

That said, seeing what the average person has saved may motivate you to try to boost your contribution rate. So looking at data along the lines of what Fidelity has provided is certainly not a bad thing to do, as long as you don't get too hung up on it or too complacent because of it.

Ultimately, your best bet in setting a retirement savings goal is to figure out what your specific bills will look like later in life. Or another method you can employ is aiming to retire with 10 to 12 times your ending salary socked away. If you close out your career with that much money, there's a good chance you'll manage to enjoy the retirement you've always dreamed of.

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