What is the Average 401(k) Balance for a 55-Year-Old?

As you approach retirement, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your financial situation and how much you’ll need to maintain your desired lifestyle. One of the most common ways Americans save for retirement is through a 401(k) plan. But how much should you have saved in your 401(k) by the time you reach 55? In this blog post, we will explore the average 401(k) balance for a 55-year-old and provide some tips on how to boost your savings as you approach retirement.

The Average 401(k) Balance at Age 55

According to data from Fidelity Investments, one of the largest providers of retirement plans in the United States, the average 401(k) balance for individuals aged 55-59 is $171,623. While this may seem like a significant amount, it’s important to remember that this is just an average and individual circumstances can vary greatly.

Factors That Affect Your Retirement Savings

There are several factors that can impact how much you have saved in your 401(k) by age 55:

1. Income: Higher:

Income earners typically have more disposable income available to contribute to their retirement savings. Additionally, many employers offer matching contributions up to a certain percentage of an employee’s salary, which can lead to higher overall savings for those with higher incomes.

2. Length of time in the workforce:

The longer you’ve been working and contributing to your 401(k), the more time your investments have had to grow through compound interest. If you started saving later in life or took time off from work for any reason (such as raising children or going back to school), this could impact your overall savings.

3. Investment performance:

The performance of your investments within your 401(k) plan can significantly impact your account balance over time. Market fluctuations and investment choices play a crucial role in determining how much your 401(k) will grow.

4. Contribution rates:

The more you contribute to your 401(k), the more you’ll have saved by age 55. However, it’s essential to balance your retirement savings with other financial priorities, such as paying off debt or saving for a child’s education.

How Much Should You Have Saved by Age 55?

While the average 401(k) balance for a 55-year-old provides a benchmark, it’s important to consider your specific financial goals and circumstances when determining how much you should have saved. A common rule of thumb is to aim for at least eight times your annual salary by age 60. For example, if you earn $50,000 per year, you should aim to have at least $400,000 saved in your retirement accounts by age 60.

Tips for Boosting Your Retirement Savings

If you find that your current 401(k) balance is below the average or not on track to meet your retirement goals, there are several steps you can take to increase your savings:

1. Increase contributions:

If possible, increase the amount you contribute to your 401(k) each year. Even small increases can make a significant difference over time due to compound interest.

2. Take advantage of employer matching:

Ensure that you’re contributing enough to receive the full employer match if one is offered. This is essentially free money that can help boost your retirement savings.

3. Review investment options:

Periodically review and adjust your investment choices within your 401(k) plan to ensure they align with your risk tolerance and time horizon.

4. Consider catch-up contributions:

If you’re aged 50 or older, take advantage of catch-up contributions which allow you to contribute an additional $6,500 per year (in addition to the standard $19,500 limit) in 2021.


While the average 401(k) balance for a 55-year-old provides a helpful benchmark, it’s essential to consider your individual financial goals and circumstances when planning for retirement. By regularly reviewing your retirement savings, adjusting your contributions, and making informed investment choices, you can help ensure that you’re on track to enjoy a comfortable ret