They are the triathletes of retirement savers — people who have saved and invested their way into having millions in their workplace retirement accounts. Their numbers may be small, and in some cases, their earnings aren’t that big, but their retirement accounts are giant-sized.
As reported in the Washington Post article, “Want to be a 401(k) millionaire? Here’s what it takes,” the number of retirement account millionaires sank a little in the volatile markets of year-end 2018. Fidelity Investments reported that for the fourth quarter of 2018, there was a 28.6 percent drop in the number of 401(k) millionaires in its plans. However, they’ve come back.
The company, the largest administrator of workplace retirement accounts, reported that the number of people with $1 million or more in their 401(k) plans increased to 180,000 in the first quarter of 2019, up from 133,800 reported in the last quarter of 2018.
You don’t have to have your retirement account with Fidelity to join the ranks of retirement account millionaires, but there are some investment practices to learn from them.
The power of time. These people started saving early in their careers, most of them for at least 30 years. They also aren’t earning six-figure incomes. It helps if you contribute as much as the IRS allows. The maximum amount of money workers may contribute during 2019 is $19,000. The 50-and-older set can contribute an additional $6,000.
Steady as she goes. Consistency is key. These millionaires continued to save, even as they purchased homes and raised children. They contributed at least 15 percent to their plan. That may be a combination of what they are putting in and an employee match, but that seems to be a key number. If your employer offers a “automatic increase” where your percentage increases every year, sign up for it.
Always make the match. Don’t leave free money on the table. If there’s a company match, 401(k) millionaires take full advantage, always contributing enough to get the match.
Go for the long run. That means taking some risk. Most of these 401(k) millionaires invest in equity mutual funds. They understand that one of the biggest risks to their retirement savings is inflation.
Stay calm and keep saving. The retirement account millionaires don’t panic when markets get volatile. They also don’t let falling stock prices deter them from buying equities. Instead, they see tumbling markets like a sale: an opportunity to buy at a lower price.
Can’t imagine yourself taking these steps or think it’s too late? Don’t give up! Remember, to be a triathlete, you have to push yourself past your physical limits. The same is true if you want to become a 401(k) millionaire. You’ve got to push yourself to save more and don’t fear the stock market.
Reference: Washington Post (May 20, 2019) “Want to be a 401(k) millionaire? Here’s what it takes.”