If you were planning on retiring any time soon, you may need to think again.
A new report from Fidelity finds that the average 401(k) balance declined for the third straight quarter. It’s now down 23% from a year ago to $97,200.
The average individual retirement account balance similarly dropped by 25% from a year ago to $101,900.
“The market has taken some dramatic turns this year,” observed Kevin Barry, president of Workplace Investing at Fidelity Investments.
He noted that even though retirement savings have declined, many Americans are still socking money away for their golden years.
“Retirement savers have wisely chosen to avoid the drama and continue making smart choices for the long-term,” Barry said. “This is important, because one of the most essential aspects of a sound retirement savings strategy is contributing enough consistently … to help reach your goals.”
True. But that doesn’t mitigate the potential danger faced by millions of Americans.
The sad fact is that 401(k)s were never intended to be the sole retirement plan for workers. They were rolled out in the 1970s as a supplement for existing retirement programs, such as pensions.
Unfortunately, most private employers quickly realized they could dump their costly pensions and steer workers instead to newfangled 401(k)s as a way to save for retirement.
Initially, many companies offered generous matches to attract employees to 401(k)s. Gradually, those matches became less generous or disappeared entirely.
I can’t say this strongly enough: Make sure you save for your later years.
This is particularly true as some lawmakers look to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. For many Americans, their 401(k) savings will be the primary nest eggs of their retirements.
Market volatility is something over which you have no control. Steady contributions to your 401(k), on the other hand, are within your reach.
And start as early possible, kids. Google “compounding interest.” Look at how funds can grow over time.
None of this is easy, to be sure. But our political and corporate leaders seem determined to make this your problem, not theirs.