Average 401k Balance by Age – Stats & FAQs


An American’s 401k plan is a savings fund sponsored by their employer. These funds go to a separate account and can be used for investing and growing your retirement income.

Do you wonder what the average 401k balance by age is? How much money do you need into your 401k account to be able to retire comfortably? What’s the percentage of your income you need to put aside?

All these questions give Americans headaches right when they start with their first job. Scroll down to find the key stats about the 401k goals by age alongside answers to some common FAQs.

Average 401k Balance by Age (Editor’s Choice)

  • The average 401k balance Americans had in Q4 2020 was $121,500.
  • Americans aged 30-39 have an average 401k savings of $50,800.
  • 1 in 3 Americans can retire comfortably by 67.
  • Workers making under $30,000 save up to 7.3%.
  • People earning over $120,000 reach a contribution peak of 12.6% by the age of 60.
  • People aged 60-69 from the District of Columbia have the highest average retirement savings in the country. 

Average 401k Savings by Age

1. As of Q4 2020, the average 401k balance is $121,500.

This figure, obtained in a study by Fidelity Investments, marks a year-on-year improvement of 8%. Namely, in Q4 of 2019, the average amount in 401k stood at $112,300, while in Q4 2018 it was $95,600. Meaning, there’s been constant growth, even though 9.1% of participants contributing to their 401(k) plan decreased their deferrals during Q4 2020, up from 8% the year before.

(Fidelity Investments)

2. The average amount in 401k for Americans aged 20-29 is $15,000.

Unsurprisingly, the average retirement savings by age stats show that young Americans have the lowest amount in their 401k. The average amount for this age group is set at a modest $15,000. Employees aged 20-29, on average, contribute 7.4% of their income towards their 401k balance. This percentage is lower than the recommended 401k contribution by age for people between 20-29 years of 10-15%. Still, young Americans have time to boost their contributions.

(CNBC, Investopedia)

3. Americans in the 30-39 age group have average savings of $50,800 in their 401k.

Most American adults aged 30 should have savings equal to their annual salary, according to the average 401k balance by age 30 statistics. With the average wage stateside for people 25-35 being $43,524, young Americans are on the right path. This is an interesting discovery because the average contribution rate for this age group is 8.3%, a little over half of what’s recommended.

(CNBC, Investopedia)

4. The average 401k savings of Americans aged 40-49 as of Q4 2020 are $120,780.

Generation X managed to put aside 8.9% of their income towards their 401k savings. The average 401k balance by age 40 stats show that this has worked out great for them. Their average 401k in 2019 was a bit over $100,000. The Gen X median 401k balance for the same quarter was $36,000. It should be noted that many people have logged lots of working years reaching their earning peak by their 40th birthday. By 40, Americans should have in 401k balance at least twice their current salary. So, workers that make $70,000 and whose average 401k balance by age 45 is $100,000 should step up their game.

(CNBC, Investopedia)

5. The average amount in 401k for American adults in the 50-59 age group is $174,100.

Their median balance in Q2 2019, according to Investopedia, was $60,900. With the average retirement age in the USA being 62 years, these people are reaching their full savings potential. Meaning, this isn’t the best amount to help them maintain their lifestyle after retirement. In any case, Q4 2020 stats show that the average contribution rate is 11.4%. The average 401k balance by age 50 statistics meanwhile reveal that in 2019, these workers deposited $6,000 more than the standard amount. At the start of 2020, the amount was even higher, at $6,500.

(CNBC, Investopedia)

6. In Q4 2020, in the United States, people aged 60-69 had average retirement savings of $229,100.

As Americans near their retirement age, they tend to deposit more money into their savings accounts. After all, these are the last years they have left to grow their balance. The average contribution of 11.4% of their income towards 401k perfectly reflects that. Per the average 401k balance by age 60 stats, baby boomers have a bit under $200,000 in their sixth decade. Their median balance is $62,000, i.e., higher than that of any other age group.

(CNBC, Investopedia)

The Average 401(k) Balance & Contribution by Age

7. Only one-third of American workers will save enough money to retire securely by 67.

The Real Deal study conducted by Aon discovered that only 1 in 3 employees would be able to retire at the age of 67. To do that comfortably, the average 401k balance by age study set the final pay multiply at 11.1. Otherwise, the median American employee will have enough retirement savings by age 70. To achieve their full potential, workers should put aside 16% of their income, starting at 25. With the contribution rates listed above, we can conclude why so few Americans are able to retire at a reasonable age.


8. Only 19% of Americans are projected to accumulate 401k savings above their target amount.

According to the projections from The Real Deal study, only 19% of workers save more than their target savings. Among those, 9% are just above the target. By contrast, most people have below the average retirement savings in the US needed for a comfortable retirement. Almost half of the workers (46%) are, in fact, significantly below their target. The remaining 20% and 15% of employees are below and just below their target, respectively.


9. 67 is the earliest age most Americans can consider retiring if they want to maintain their lifestyle.

Even though the average retirement age in the US is 62, most Americans can’t afford to stop working at that point. Instead, 67 is the projected minimum for most US workers. Plus, 67 is not everyone’s Age of Adequacy. The average American retirement savings by age show that professionals in the food services will reach AoA by 75. For workers in technology, this figure is 74, while 73 is the AoA for professionals in healthcare services.


10. 16% of female and 23% of male workers are above their target retirement savings by age 67.

In terms of the average 401k contribution, American women have it worse. Only 16% of female workers are above their target balance. Among those, about 7% are just above the target. By contrast, the average retirement savings by age 67 among male employees are above the target for 23%. Among those, 11% have a 401k balance just above the target retirement savings. More than half of women working in the USA (54%) are significantly below their retirement savings goal, compared to only 36% of men with significantly fewer funds than their savings goals by age 67.


Distribution of Retirement - Income Surplus/(Shortfall) by gender

11. Over one-third of Gen Xers have no retirement savings but expect to need over $1 million once they retire.

The Personal Capital average 401k balance at retirement stats show that 34% of Generation X workers have no savings. Millennials are in an even worse situation, with 39% having no retirement savings. Both age groups expect to need around $1 million to survive through their retirement. About 24% of each group believes the key to safe retirement is a trained financial advisor.

(Personal Capital)

Average Retirement Savings by Income

12. People making up to $30,000 save no more than 7.3% by the time they’re 60.

Americans with the lowest salaries put the smallest amount of money towards their 401k balance. Aon’s Real Deal research of 2018 places contribution levels between 4.4% and 7% for people making $30,000 or less. Workers with this income reach their peak of contributing about 7.3% by the time they’re 60. When they’re 60+, their contribution remains around the 7% threshold. The savings below the recommended retirement savings by age for workers from this income group result from low contributions right from the start. Namely, people under 30 that earn up to $30,000 put aside around 4.4% during the first decade of their careers.


13. Americans making $30,000-60,000 reach a savings peak of 8.8% in their sixties.

Employees whose salary falls within the $30,000-60,000 range manage to save more for their retirement days. The study shows that their average 401k contribution in their twenties and thirties is 5.6%. Aon’s average 401k balance by income level stats project their peak at 8.8% when they’re 60 and over. The figures place the average contribution for this income level at 6.4% and 7.9% for people aged 40-50 and 50-60, respectively.


14. The average amount saved for retirement for people making $60,000-90,000 is 7.3-10.6%.

Making more money makes it possible to save more funds into your retirement balance. This is proven by the Real Deal figures that show people who earn $60,000-90,000 contribute 7.3% in their twenties. It’s interesting to note that the average 401k balance by age 35 (or 30-40) for people in this income group drops. The reason behind this is the lower contribution levels of 7%. After reaching their income peak at about 40, the contribution levels grow each decade to 7.7%, 9.5%, and 10.6%.


15. Americans earning $90,000-120,000 a year put aside 8.9% from their income when they’re in their twenties.

Those making at least $90,000 are the ones who are hitting their targets, according to the average retirement savings statistics. Their average retirement savings by age 65 are soaring thanks to high contribution rates of 11.5%. In fact, they start putting aside over 10% of their income (11.2%) right after they reach the age of 50. Americans aged 30-40 and 40-50 that make between $90,000-120,000 on average, save 8.2%, and 9.4%, respectively.


16. The highest contribution rates (12.6%) are recorded among people over 60 that make over $120,000.

The highest-earning Americans make at least $120,000 a year. Unsurprisingly, the average American retirement savings are the most substantial in this income group. During their twenties and thirties, Americans making over $120,000 save about 9.9% of their paycheck. In their forties and fifties, the contribution rates go up to 10.6% and 12.2%, respectively. Workers earning $120,000+ boost their 401k balance by age 60+ the most by contributing 12.6% of their income.


Average Retirement Savings by Income

17. Only 10% of workers in the food services, retail distribution, and accommodation industries are ready to retire at 67.

Workers in the aerospace, chemicals, and oil industries are the best prepared for retirement, according to the average statistics on the average 401k balance by age. They are accompanied by those in mining, food, and beverage utilities. In this category, six out of 10 employees can afford to retire at the age of 67. Contrary to expectations, only 20% of people working in technology are within their retirement target needs. Among those with good prospects are professionals in the accounting industry, official bookkeeping stats show. Those in electronics, insurance, telecommunications, transportation, and agriculture have good opportunities too. This compares to 30% of employees in the automotive, banking, engineering, and entertainment industries.


Average 401k Balance by State and Age

18. In 2020, the District of Columbia was the US state with the highest median retirement savings.

Americans from this state had an average amount saved for retirement of $134,900 in 2017. Citizens aged 60-69 had the highest average savings compared to people in their sixties from the other states. Their 401k average balance in 2017 was a little under $300,000, i.e., $298,200. Next on the list come Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Alaska. The average retirement savings by state statistics reveal that Americans from these states have over $115,000 in retirement balances.

(Financial Fixation)

19. Mississippi was the state with the lowest average retirement savings in 2017.

When it comes to the lowest retirement funds by age 30, Mississippi is at the end of the table with $61,360. People aged 20-29 from the Magnolia State are way behind workers from other states. Their average balances in 2017 were just below $7,000 at $6,900. Financial Fixation’s table with the average retirement savings by age and state, Arkansas, South Dakota, Nevada, and Alabama hold the five worst positions. Workers from all these states have average retirement balances of under $70,000.

(Financial Fixation)

20. The highest average 401k amount among people 20-29 was recorded in Washington.

Even though 7th on the list of average retirement balance, Washington topped the list of 401k balance among Americans in their 20s. Namely, citizens of the Evergreen State noted high contribution rates of about 8.92%. So, their average 401k balance by age 29 in 2017 was an impressive 16,600. The situation was identical for Washingtonians in their 30s. They had an even higher contribution of 9.83% and an average savings balance of $56,400. The leader in the 50-59 age group in terms of average 401k savings was Connecticut. Its citizens, in 2017, had an average retirement balance of $219,000.

(Financial Fixation)

Average 401k Balance by Age and State

21. Only 13 out of 50 US states were retirement ready in 2020.

Among those, only Iowa has an average 401k balance of over $500,000 at $522,173. Two other top performers are Vermont and Alaska. Vermont’s average is just below $500,000, i.e., $493,432. Alaska also has a strong result at $466,551.

(Personal Capital)


How much does the average person have in 401k?

The national average 401(k) balance as of Q4 2020 is $121,500. This figure varies based on age and annual income. Americans in their 20s have a median balance of $15,000, while those in their 30s have median savings of $50,800. American workers in their 40s, 50s, and 60s have median balances of $120,780, $174,100, and $229,100, respectively.

How much should I have in my 401k?

Financial advisors offer a table that guides Americans on how much money they need in their 401k by a certain age. Your average balance should be twice your salary by the age of 35, and by 45, you need four times your pay. 

For a comfortable retirement, people aged 60 need at least eight times their salary. As most Americans can afford to retire when they’re 67, they will need at least ten times their annual income. Due to their longer life expectancy, women should always aim at higher than average retirement savings.

How much to invest in 401k?

As people get older and their salary grows, they tend to put aside more of their income. Stats show that to have a carefree retirement, you should set aside about 10%. Plus, you should start doing this as soon as you enter your 20s or get your first job.

How much do you need to retire?

This depends on how much money you make per year. Financial experts advise people to retire when they have secured about 80% of their pre-retirement income, and we agree with this. 

To illustrate this, let’s say your salary right before retirement was $100,000. In this situation, your median retirement savings should be able to provide you with an annual income of at least $80,000.

How much to save for retirement by age?

By the age of 40 and 50, you need respective 2x and 4x your salary. People retiring at 60 need about six times their pay to maintain their current lifestyle. So, if you make $50,000 per year, you want to save about $300,000 in your 401k account.


It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. And while that can be quite stressful especially in this day and age, these facts and stats on the average 401k balance by age have hopefully shed some light on this complex topic and have given you an idea where you stand and what to do going forward to ensure that you will be comfortable in your golden years.

References: Fidelity, CNBC, Investopedia, Aon, Personal Capital, Financial Fixation

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