How Does Your 401(k) Compare?

Do you ever wonder how the balance in your 401(k) and how much you are contributing to your retirement accounts compares to the rest of the working world?

According to Fidelity Investments, the nation's largest 401(k) administrator:

  • The average balance among its nearly 12 million shareholders was $72,800 at the end of June 2012.
  • The average employee contribution for the latest quarter was $1,660, up $30.
  • The average employer contribution was $950, also up $30.
  • The average employee contribution in Fidelity-administered 401(k) plans has remained steady at around 8% of annual pay for the past three years.

In the latest quarter, about twice as many participants increased their contributions as decreased them.

Over the past 10 years, about two thirds of annual increases in 401(k) account balances have come from workers' contributions and company matches, with one third the result of investment returns.

What the moral of the story?

The amount you contribute matters more than the investment returns.

Your contribution probably needs to be larger than the percentage matched by your employer.

About Bruce J. Berno, CFP®
Bruce J. Berno, CFP® is the founder of Berno Financial Management, Inc. a fee-only comprehensive personal financial planning and investment advisory firm headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since 1993, Berno Financial Management has been helping individuals and families achieve financial peace of mind. For more information about Berno Financial Management, visit