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Are You Saving as Much in Your 401(k) As Others Your Age?


Saving for retirement is something that most everyone has to do. Unless you have generational wealth that will take care of you from cradle to grave, you probably have to spend some of your working years figuring out how to fund the final stage of your life. Participation in 401(k) programs, though, is not universal. Despite the fact that traditional pensions are on the decline and Social Security is generally not enough for most people to live on, many Americans still don’t put money into a workplace savings plan, even if they have access to it.

If you want help creating a retirement savings program, consider working with a financial advisor.

Who Contributes Most to 401(k) Plans?

If you want to pick out who is most likely to participate in a 401(k) plan, look for a guy with graying hair in a Nirvana shirt. According to recent research from Bank of America, Generation X men are the most likely to contribute to their 401(k) plan, with 70% of eligible employees making contributions. Generation X is also the most likely to contribute overall at 65%, compared to 54% for millennials and 59% for baby boomers.

Furthermore, men are more likely to contribute than women. Men contribute at a rate of 62% while 55% of eligible women participate.

Men contribute 6.8% of their paycheck on average, compared with 6.4% for women. Both men and women contribute more as they get older. Millennial women contribute 5.2%, Gen X women 6.6% and baby boomer women 8.0%. Those percentages stand at 5.5%, 7.2% and 9.0% for men.

Gender Balance Gap Persists – Mostly

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For myriad reasons, women have traditionally saved less in their 401(k) plans than men. For most generations, that still holds true:

  • Silent Generation women have 33% as much 401(k) savings as men
  • Baby Boomer women have 53% as much
  • Gen X women have 65%
  • Millennial women have saved 80% as much as men

For the youngest cohort currently in the workforce, though, things have changed. Gen Z women have saved 103% as much as men.

The Bottom Line

Despite increased focus in media and among financial educators on the importance of retirement savings, just over half of 401(k) eligible employees actually participate in their plan. Men still save more than women, though among Gen Z savers women have overtaken men. The demographic where the most people participate in 401(k) plans is Gen X men, where 70% participate.

Retirement Savings Tips

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  • A financial advisor can help you get on track for retirement. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Use SmartAsset’s retirement planning calculator to get a sense of where you are in terms of achieving your retirement goals.

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