Vanguard How America Saves 2018: How Does Your 401k Compare?

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Vanguard recently released How America Saves 2018 report [PDF], which looks at the nearly 5 million 401k, 403b, and other defined-contribution retirement plans that they service. If you are curious about how your 401k stats compare with others, there is a great deal of information in this report. Here are a few quick stats based on 2017 data:

  • Average aggregate contribution rate amongst participants was 10.3% (employer and employee total).
  • Average maximum “employer match” contribution was 7% of income. Nearly 2/3rds of participants received the maximum employer match.
  • Average employee contribution was 6.8% of income.
  • Maxing out. 13% of participants saved the maximum annual amount of $18,000 ($24,000 age 50+) for 2017.
  • Average account balance was $103,866; the median balance was $26,331. A small number of plans with very high balances skews this often-quoted average upward.
  • Target-date funds. 58% of participants had their entire account balance invested in a single target-date fund or similar managed allocation. In other words, 58% let someone else pick their portfolio.
  • Automatic enrollment. Plans with automatic enrollment have a 92% participation rate.
  • Withdrawals and rollovers. About 1/3rd of participants could have cashed out their balance (with taxes and penalties) because they switched jobs. 84% of those folks kept their money in retirement plans. In terms of assets, 98% of all plan assets available for distribution were preserved and only 2% were taken in cash.
  • Loans. 15% of participants had a loan outstanding at year-end 2017.

These numbers don’t tell the entire story, as the average includes workers across different age groups, income levels, job tenures, and so on.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Comments and/or responses are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser. Comments and/or responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. 15% have a loan??

  2. Where I work, the company match is 6%. Didn’t realize the average is 7%. Our average balance according to Brightscope is $200,000

    The percentage of those with a loan, I think is higher at my company. It’s surprising how many people take 401k loans. Some have two simultaneous loans. Also our most popular fund, is a bond returning something in the neighborhood of 2%

Speak Your Mind