Fidelity Investments recently reported that the average 401(k) account balance it managed reached a 10-year high of $71,500 at the end of 2010, and for those who had consistently contributed to their plan, $183,100.
Those figures are hardly cause for celebration, since the standard retirement calculator calls for Baby Boomers between the ages of 54 and 65 to have 14.6 times their final salary to be able to live decently in retirement.
At the rate that most people save, they will never get there. It is well known that most people contribute 4% to 6% of their salaries-whatever the company match is. Financial advisers say that a more realistic rate is 10% to 15% of one's salary. In reality, it might even take a quarter to one-third of one's salary to reach this high retirement savings target, but most people would never consider directing such a high portion of their pay.
That's why it was so encouraging to see ING U.S. Retirement Services and The Hartford recently launch marketing campaigns asking Americans to take the 2% reduction in their Social Security taxes in 2011 and 2012 and use that money for their retirement.
ING's campaign is called "Retirement Raise" and The Hartford's is "Two for Tomorrow." Both emphasize how even small increases can add up.
ING is directing its campaign at its six million participants and disseminating it through educational materials, e-mails, electronic newsletters and information on participant websites. The Hartford is aiming its campaign at its 1.6 million participants as well as plan sponsors and financial advisers. This campaign consists of web-based educational tools and an emphasis on the benefits of matching contributions and tax-deferred savings.
As Catherine Smith, CEO of ING U.S. Retirement Services, said: "Unfortunately, many of the nearly 75 million workers who have access to plans aren't maximizing them. As the burden to self-fund retirement grows, we need to find simple ways for people to save more."
ING and The Hartford have taken a first step to prompt Americans to boost savings, but more companies should advance this message. Retirement will not be possible for millions unless they save far more today to achieve the possibilities of tomorrow.