July 23


Retirement Reality Check: How Much is the Average 401k at Retirement

By Harrison O'Reill

July 23, 2023

The average 401k balance at retirement is a topic of great interest to many individuals who are planning for their future. This is because the amount of money that one has saved in their retirement account can significantly impact their quality of life in their golden years.

While there is no definitive answer to the question of how much the average 401k balance is at retirement, there are some general guidelines that can help individuals plan for their retirement.

How Much?

According to recent studies, the average 401k balance at retirement is around $280k. This may seem like a large number, but it is important to keep in mind that this amount can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as age, income, and investment strategy.

Additionally, it is important to remember that this average includes both high and low earners, so it may not be a realistic goal for everyone. Nevertheless, it is still a useful benchmark to keep in mind when planning for retirement.

Retirement Planning

While the average 401k balance at retirement may not be enough for everyone, it’s a good starting point for understanding the importance of saving for retirement. By taking action now and making smart investment decisions, you can increase your chances of achieving a comfortable retirement lifestyle.

401(k) Plans

One of the most popular retirement savings options is the 401(k) plan. These plans are offered by employers and allow employees to contribute a portion of their pre-tax income to the plan.

Many employers also offer matching contributions, which can significantly boost the account balance. The contribution limit for 401(k) plans in 2023 is $20,500 for those under 50 years old and $22,500 for those over 50.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

Another option for retirement savings is an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). IRAs are available to anyone, regardless of whether they have access to an employer-sponsored plan. There are two types of IRAs: traditional and Roth. Contributions to traditional IRAs are tax-deductible, while contributions to Roth IRAs are made with after-tax dollars. Both types of IRAs have contribution limits of $6,000 for those under 50 years old and $7,000 for those over 50.

Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits are an important source of retirement income for many Americans. The amount of your benefit is based on your earnings history, and you can begin receiving benefits as early as age 62.

However, the longer you wait to start receiving benefits, the higher your monthly benefit will be. It’s important to factor in Social Security benefits when planning for retirement, as they can provide a significant portion of your income.



In summary, the average 401k balance at retirement varies depending on several factors, including age, income, and contribution rate. However, based on recent studies, the average 401k balance at retirement is around $250,000.

It’s important to note that this amount may not be enough to sustain a comfortable retirement, especially if you plan to retire early or have significant healthcare expenses. Therefore, it’s crucial to start saving early and contribute as much as possible to your 401k account.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider other retirement savings options, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and taxable investment accounts. Diversifying your retirement savings can help you achieve your retirement goals and provide financial security in your golden years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about this topic.

How much should I contribute to my 401k?

The general rule of thumb is to contribute at least 10-15% of your income to your 401k. However, the amount you should contribute depends on your individual financial situation and retirement goals. It’s essential to consider factors such as your age, income, expenses, and other retirement savings when determining how much to contribute.

What is the average 401k balance at retirement?

According to Fidelity, the average 401k balance at retirement in 2023 was around $280,000. However, this amount varies significantly based on factors such as age, income, and contribution rate. It’s essential to start contributing to your 401k as early as possible and increase your contribution rate over time to achieve a more substantial retirement balance.

Can I withdraw money from my 401k before retirement?

Yes, but it’s generally not recommended. If you withdraw money from your 401k before age 59 1/2, you’ll incur a 10% penalty on top of income taxes. However, there are some exceptions, such as a hardship withdrawal or a loan from your 401k. It’s crucial to consider the long-term impact on your retirement savings before withdrawing money from your 401k early.

What happens to my 401k when I change jobs?

When you change jobs, you have several options for your 401k. You can leave it with your previous employer, roll it over into your new employer’s 401k or an IRA, or cash it out. Cashing out your 401k is generally not recommended due to the penalties and taxes involved. It’s essential to consider the long-term impact on your retirement savings before making a decision.

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