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Average Retirement Savings Revealed: Are You Normal?

smartasset lars average retirement savings

Many Americans worry they’re not saving enough for retirement, and rightfully so.

Nearly 62% of U.S. adults admit their financial planning needs improvement, yet only 35% work with a financial advisor, according to a recent study.

Retirement Planning Statistics

While the value of working with a financial advisor varies by person and advisors are legally prohibited from promising returns, research suggests people who work with a financial advisor feel more at ease about their finances and could end up with about 15% more money to spend in retirement.2

A 2019 Vanguard study found that, on average, a hypothetical $500K investment would grow to over $3.4 million under the care of an advisor over 25 years, whereas the expected value from self-management would be $1.69 million, or 50% less. In other words, an advisor-managed portfolio would average 8% annualized growth over a 25-year period, compared to 5% from a self-managed portfolio.3

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Have I Saved Enough?

Approximately 40 million households have no retirement savings, according to the National Institute of Retirement Security.4

It’s never too late to get started. Although results are never guaranteed and risks are involved, well-managed investments may potentially compound over time.

Fidelity reported in May 2022 that the average 401(k) balance for those who’ve been saving for over 10 years averaged over $380,000.5

Not sure where to start? SmartAsset created a free quiz to help Americans find vetted financial advisors who serve your area and are obligated to work in your best interest. Whether you’re beginning a new retirement plan or want a second opinion on your current one, an advisor might be able to help.

How Much Do I Need to Save?

As a general guideline, you should have saved the equivalent of one year’s salary by the time you hit 30, according to Fidelity research, but saving more certainly won’t hurt.

Going by their estimates, you should aim to have:

  • 3x by age 40
  • 4x by age 50
  • 8x by age 60
  • 10x – by retirement

These recommendations are based on a person saving 15% of their income beginning at age 25, investing at least 50% in stocks and a target retirement age of 67.6

Of course, saving for retirement is different for everyone. If you feel like you’re behind in savings, want to make sure you’re on track or want to find investment vehicles to help you save more, talking to a financial advisor can help you set and execute a retirement plan.

Each advisor has a differentiated strategy. It’s important to find one with experience in your strategy and preferences. The investment plans for younger Americans tend to be different from those who start investing later.

American’s Average Retirement Savings by Age

An October 2020 study by the Center for Retirement Research calculated median retirement account (401(k)/IRA) balances by age from Federal Reserve survey data.7

Here are the numbers:

  • $51,000 – age 35-44
  • $90,000 – age 45-54
  • $120,000 – age 55-64

Speak to an Advisor to Work On Boosting Your Retirement Savings

Regardless of where your retirement savings stand right now, one way that you can help get a retirement plan in place is by working with a financial advisor.

Yet knowing how to find a fiduciary advisor is, for many, the most confusing task of all. Common Google searches related to the topic reveal a desperate search for direction. “Fiduciary financial advisors near me,” “best fiduciary financial advisor” and “financial investment advisors near me” are searched hundreds of times per day.

Finding a fiduciary shouldn’t be that hard. Thankfully, it isn’t.

Our free tool helps Americans get matched with up to three advisors that serve their area so they can compare and decide which advisor they feel may align with helping to achieve their financial goals.

Get your free financial advisor matches today.


2. “Journal of Retirement Study Winter” (2020). The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of your future results. Please follow the link to see the methodologies employed in the Journal of Retirement study.
3. Vanguard (February 2019), Putting a Value on Your Value The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of your future results. Please see the methodologies employed in the Vanguard whitepaper. To receive a copy of the whitepaper, please contact
4. The Continuing Retirement Savings Crisis”. NIRS (March 2015)
5. Building Financial Futures”, Fidelity (May 2022).
6. “How Much Do I Need to Retire?” Fidelity (Aug. 2021).
7. “401(K)/IRA HOLDINGS IN 2019: AN UPDATE FROM THE SCF”. CRR. (Oct. 2020).

SmartAsset’s Disclaimer


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