Retirement & Financial Planning Report

A study tracking account balances of savers in 401(k) type programs comparable to the federal Thrift Savings Plan underscores the value of consistent participation in such programs.

The study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute tracked the investment balances for a group of retirement savers deemed to be “consistent” participants over 2010-2018.


At the end of that period, 28 percent had more than $200,000 in their accounts at their current employers, while another 19 percent had between $100,000 and $200,000. That compares with just 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively, among all account holders.

Over 2010-2016, it added, the average account balance of those savers rose from about $64,000 to about $152,000 while the median balance—the point where half are below and half are above—rose from about $25,000 to about $74,000.

In contrast, across the entire database of investors, the average amount increased from about the same starting point to only about $75,000 and $17,000, respectively.

Through 2018, it added, the numbers for the consistent investors increased further to about $180,000 and about $90,000; there were no comparable figures for those additional years for the overall group.

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