Americans 401K balances as of the end of 2018

Each year Fidelity reports on how much Americans have saved for retirement and what the median account balance is. The latest 2018 data has just come out today. Fidelity is a great source of this data as they are the largest 401K provider in the US, and they have over 16 million accounts under management. See the data below.

We regularly report on emergency savings, retirement data, auto loans and credit card debt, etc. as we continue to try to bring visibility to all of these issues. Financial literacy and “empowerment” is huge to us at needhelppayingbills.

And god forbid the “press” talk about this pending retirement crisis or people talk about it on social media…as we know those two things will never happen. As the press would rather talk about sensational news stories or Trump, and social networking is a waste too. So we try to post stories and stress it…and while it may not make much difference, at least we are trying.

Unfortunately, there is very little in the form of education and classes given to kids as they grow up, which leads to bad habits. And those bad financial habits carry over to adulthood, which leads to lack of knowledge on saving, investing, living within means, retirement and more. The lack of knowledge is so bad that most people do not even have the very basics of finances such as pre or after tax income, income tax brackets, what APR is, etc.

In addition to that lack of knowledge, too many people blame others for maybe their lack of opportunity or income or career. As but one example, how many people incorrectly blame technology or immigrants for taking jobs or holding them back from a higher income. (BTW immigrants and technology and much of what else you may say are not the cause of economic hardship). Or many people would rather depend on others for their financial knowledge vs. acquiring the knowledge and empowering themselves.

These reasons, and countless others, are why we sometimes write articles on retirement, living within means, saving, and the like. Obviously, as this data from Fidelity shows, there needs to be much more visibility brought to the retirement crisis in the US. And much more needs to be done about emergency savings, living with means, etc.

2018 retirement Savings data

Note the data below is the total account balance. So it is the total value of the 401K account.

Ages 20-29, Median 401(k) balance: $4,000.
Age 30-39, Median 401(k) balance: $16,500.
Age 40-49, Median 401(k) balance: $36,900.
Age 50-59, Median 401(k) balance: $62,700.
Age 60-69, Median 401(k) balance: $63,000.

Obviously this is horrible data. Now some people may have a pension (which is rare and getting rarer), an IRA, or other investments, but 401Ks are the main vehicle for retiring these days and in the future. And someone in their 40s having less than 40K? Honestly there is no hope for retiring for not only that person in their 40s but there is not hope in retiring for any of those age groups listed above unless they have some other huge source of funds, like that rare pension.

How can I start to save for retirement so I am not a “stat”?

The bottom line, spend your money wisely!. Do not be materialistic or try to keep up with the “Joneses”. Be happy with the simple things in life. Pay yourself first, and countless other things we write about.

Sadly, as we just wrote about, people spend more on lotto tickets than they save for retirement or emergency savings. Or spend more on take-out coffee each morning. Or countless other mindless and wasteful expenditures.

We know it can be very difficult for a low income family to start to save and invest. But you can start with a few bucks or so per month…pocket change. Find more details here on how low income families can start investing.

We also have tons of free money making programs on the site. Those funds can be used for building emergency savings, paying down debt, starting a retirement fund, and really anything. Some of the opportunities can even be recurring, “passive” income.

And when it comes to financial literacy, our blog has info. And we also recommend budgeting and financial classes at non-profit credit counseling agencies, which can be a great place to start to get information. Or try local charities for literacy classes.

It is never too late to start! Save and invest now. And improve financial literacy.

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