Retirement accounts are drawing record contributions
Americans have started to grow those 401(k) and Individual Retirement Account nest eggs at a record pace.
According to Fidelity Investments, the retirement 401(k) and IRA giant, the year-end average balance for 401(k)s in 2014 was more than $91,000, 2 percent higher than the year before and a 30 percent increase over 2011.
Megan Murphy, director of thought leadership for Fidelity, credits a growing realization by younger people that saving for the future is important.
"We are seeing a lot of young investors saving more and even making it a priority to save, as they are trying to balance perhaps student loans, saving for their first home," she said. "They're also saving for their retirement account."
Consistent savers have been rewarded, with those who have had a 401(k) plan for 10 years or more seeing an 11 percent increase in their balances compared to last year.
Murphy said there is also more employer involvement.
"For many Americans, employers play a role too, because the employer is contributing to that retirement account, that 401(k), and that money grows as well," she said.
According to Murphy, most people cannot rely on a full pension or retiree medical benefits anymore. They'll get Social Security, but their retirement account, the 401(k), will be the majority of their income.
Ken Kamen, president of Mercadien Asset Management in Mercer County, agrees with Murphy's message.
"What's really happening is, seeping into the public consciousness is that the safety nets that we all counted on in the past -- pensions and the largesse of corporate America -- is no longer there," Kamen said, "so if we don't fend for ourselves, no one is going to be taking care of us when we are older."
The average savings rate for 401(k)s in the fourth quarter of 2014 increased more than 8 percent, the highest such rate since the end of 2011.
The average 401(k) contribution was more than $9,600 in 2014, a 4 percent increase over 2013. Fidelity reported the average IRA contribution in 2014, in total, was more than $4,300. That was an increase of 2 percent from the prior year.