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Two-thirds of 401(k) plan participants view themselves as savers, not investors

Chris Jones, CFP

Jones Financial

Two-thirds of 401(k) plan participants view themselves as savers, not investors

An investment mindset can help pre-retirees achieve a more financially secure retirement

Participants in 401(k) plans are twice as likely to view themselves as savers, rather than investors, according to a new Schwab Retirement Plan Services survey.


In fact, 401(k)’s are often the major, if not only, source for retirement preparation, according to the study. Most (58%) say their 401(k) is their only or largest source of retirement savings. Two-thirds (65%) of those surveyed say participating in a 401(k) plan was their first experience with investing. Outside of a 401(k), participants are more likely to use a savings account to prepare for retirement than any type of investment account.


Shifting mindset from ‘saving for retirement’ towards ‘investing for retirement’ can help investors better reach their financial goals, according to the study.


Half of those surveyed (51%) are contributing 10 percent or less of their salary to their 401(k). When asked how they decided how much to contribute to their plan initially, 55 percent say they chose a percentage they were comfortable with, 36 percent contributed as much as their employer matched and 8 percent were automatically enrolled at a default percentage chosen by their employer. Among those surveyed who were auto-enrolled into their 401(k) plan, 33 percent have never increased their contribution rate and 44 percent have never changed their investment choices.


A quarter (26%) of participants have taken a loan from their 401(k). Of those, more than half have taken multiple loans.


When asked where they need further help and advice, the top response was “determining the age they can afford to retire” (41%), followed by “calculating how much they need to save for retirement” (40%), and “receiving specific advice on how to invest” (37%).

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This publication is designed to provide general information and is for discussion purposes only. The effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon each individual’s facts and circumstances. This article does not provide legal, tax or account advice. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error, the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information is not guaranteed.
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