personal finance

Here's How Much Americans in Their 50s Have in Their 401(K)S

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No matter how old you are, it's never too early to start saving for retirement. If you have access to a 401(k) plan through your employer, that can be an easy way to start socking money away.

You'll likely need more money than you think. By 50, you should aim to have at least six times your salary saved for retirement in order to be on track to retire at 67, according to calculations from retirement-plan provider Fidelity.

If you earn $50,000 a year, you shoud aim to have $300,000 put away by 50. If your current salary is $100,000, you should aim for $600,000 in retirement savings.

But how much do Americans actually have saved? As of the fourth quarter of 2020, Americans between the ages of 50 and 59 have an average 401(k) balance of $203,600, according to data from Fidelity's retirement platform. Employees in this age group contribute an average rate of 10.4% of their salaries.

Taking advantage of an employer match is an easy way to boost savings. The average employer contribution for 50-year-old Americans is 4.8%. By contributing just over 10% of your salary, you would be adding a total of 15% of your salary to your 401(k) each year.

Saving money for retirement can be hard, especially if you are behind or cannot save much. But even contributing 1% of your salary to retirement savings to start and slowly increasing that contribution can make a big difference over time.

How much should you be saving for retirement?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for how much you should save for retirement. That figure depends largely on the lifestyle you want for yourself and your family.

But Fidelity recommends saving 15% of your salary over the course of your career to be prepared for retirement. Here are the benchmarks Fidelity recommends you follow at every age:

  • By age 30, you should have the equivalent of your salary saved
  • By age 40, you should have three times your salary saved
  • By age 50, you should have six times your salary saved
  • By age 60, you should have eight times your salary saved
  • By age 67, you should have ten times your salary saved

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