Investors in 401(k)s should be applauded for not bailing on the market during the bleak the past few years, Fidelity Investments reported in a study.

In its annual "Building Futures" report, the company said that the average weighted balance of a 401(k) plan in 2003 was $55,000, a 25% increase from 2002. More than 10% of contributors chucked in the maximum $12,000 allowed by law, and most allocated at least 7% of their wages into the plans.

"Overall, the trends in ‘Building Futures’ reinforce that 401(k)s are meeting their intended goal of helping workers save for retirement through the workplace," said Steve Deschenes, Fidelity Institutional Retirement Services’ executive vice president. He added that 401(k)s "remain the preferred way to save for retirement."

Deschenes also expressed that each investor and especially each employer should recognize that every situation is unique, and the multi-faceted offerings by employers recently are encouraging.

"There is not a single solution that meets the differing individual needs of all workers," Deschenes said.

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