Here’s How Much a 401(k) Grows Every 5 Years

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We’ve all heard that if you save early and often, you can build a big nest egg. But nothing makes that point better than actually seeing the numbers.

Recently, Fidelity Investments added up the growth from 35 million IRA, 401(k) and 403(b) retirement accounts on its platform and arrived at an indisputable conclusion: Those who continuously save over periods of five, 10 and 15 years reap huge financial benefits.

Following is how much savers accumulated on average simply by saving year after year in the same retirement plan with the same employer.

Five-year continuous savers

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Dean Drobot /

Average balance in the first quarter of 2017: $115,000

Average balance in the first quarter of 2022: $257,400

If you have gotten a late start in saving for retirement, the above figures should give you a lot of hope. In just five years, savers in Fidelity retirement accounts saw their portfolios more than double.

Of course, past returns are no guarantee of future results. But history indicates that even if you have a relatively small balance today, continuing to contribute to your account should pay off in a big way.

Check out “7 Fast Ways to Catch Up on Retirement Savings.”

10-year continuous savers

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Average balance in the first quarter of 2012: $85,100

Average balance in the first quarter of 2022: $383,100

Fidelity’s five-year totals are impressive, but adding a mere five additional years of saving really grows one’s nest egg.

Over a 10-year period, those who continuously saved in their retirement accounts saw their portfolio quadruple.

15-year continuous savers

Retiree holding cash
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Average balance in the first quarter of 2007: $64,900

Average balance in the first quarter of 2022: $482,900

It’s a truism that time is a key ingredient to growing your wealth. Relatively small increases over short periods become giant leaps over many years.

Those who have continuously saved for 15 years inside their Fidelity retirement accounts have seen their nest egg swell by nearly 7.5 times in size.

To learn more from the errors of others — so you don’t repeat their failings — read “7 Things Workers Wish They Had Done When Saving for Retirement.”

Tips for building your 401(k)

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Warren Buffett — considered by many to be the world’s greatest investor — once said:

“Investors who avoid high and unnecessary costs and simply sit for an extended period with a collection of large, conservatively-financed American businesses will almost certainly do well.”

Fidelity’s report more than bears out the Oracle of Omaha’s words. If you want tips for growing your nest egg, check out one — or both — of these Money Talks News courses:

  • Money Made Simple offers lessons on money basics ranging from budgeting to taxes, insurance and real estate.
  • The Only Retirement Guide You'll Ever Need is intended for those who are 45 or older. It will teach you how to invest to reach retirement goals, how to score up to $12,000 more in Social Security benefits every year and more.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson teaches both courses, each of which lasts 14 weeks.

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