A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that allows employees to contribute a portion of each paycheck. Many employers also match a certain amount of employee contributions. Typically, 401(k) plans are tax-deferred, meaning the money you contribute isn’t taxed until you withdraw from your account.
Our 401(k) calculator below can help you determine what your 401(k) balance will be when you retire.
Estimated 401(k) Balance at Retirement
|Current 401(k) balance|
|Years to invest|
|Annual rate of return|
|Expected annual salary increase|
|Percent to contribute|
|Your employer's contribution|
How to Use the 401(k) Retirement Calculator
The 401(k) calculator estimates how much money you will have in your 401(k) by retirement based on your age, current balance, amount you contribute, and employer match. It can help you determine when you will be financially ready for retirement.
In the fields above, use the toggle to adjust the numbers based on your personal information and 401(k) account. Click “Calculate” to see your future balance. You will also be able to see your total contributions and total employer match contributions.
Remember that taxes don’t get factored into this 401(k) calculator. The taxes you’ll pay on your 401(k) depend on the tax bracket you’re in when you withdraw from your account. Additionally, check that you aren’t contributing more than the current IRS contribution limits. For 2023, the contribution limits are $22,500 or $30,000 if you’re above age 50.
Basic Investing Terms to Know
Below are the definitions of the investing terms referenced in the 401(k) calculator:
- Current age: Your age as of today.
- Retirement age: The age you plan to retire. Currently, Social Security benefits are available at age 66 but rise to age 67 if you were born in 1960 or later.
- Current 401(k) balance: The amount of money saved in your 401(k) as of today.
- Annual salary: The amount of income you earn from an employer over one calendar year before deductions and taxes. Do not include other streams of income.
- Annual salary increase: The percentage you expect your annual salary to increase yearly. On average, employees receive a 4.6% pay increase each year.
- Percent to contribute: The percentage of your annual salary you contribute to your 401(k).
- Employer match: The percentage of your annual contributions that your employer matches. For example, your employer might match 50% of your yearly contributions.
- Employer maximum: The maximum salary percentage your employer will match. For example, your employer might only match up to 6% of your salary, regardless of how much you contribute.
- Annual rate of return: The percentage an investment gains or loses. This number will depend on the investments you choose. On average, the S&P 500® has gained 10.7% annually since its conception in 1957. It’s important to note that these rates vary over time and can only be used as an estimate.
- Payments per year: The number of pay periods annually.
How a 401(K) Works
A 401(k) is a retirement savings account employers specifically offer as part of a company’s benefits plan. Employees contribute a portion of each paycheck to their 401(k) account, and often, employers match a portion of employee contributions.
You don’t pay taxes on the money that you initially contribute. Once you turn 59 ½, your withdrawals will get taxed as ordinary income. You will incur a 10% tax penalty if you withdraw money from your 401(k) before you reach age 59 ½. To avoid this, make sure you have an emergency fund for shorter-term expenses.
401(k) plans allow you to invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and target-date funds. When maximizing your 401(k), it’s important to have an investment strategy. You can work with a retirement adviser to help create a strategy that works for you.
What Are the Benefits of a 401(k)?
There are two main benefits of investing in a 401(k). The first advantage is that 401(k) plans are tax-deferred, meaning you don’t pay taxes until you withdraw your savings. This lowers your current taxable income. For example, if you currently make $60,000 and contribute 10% of your salary to a 401(k), you are reducing your taxable income by $6,200. As a result, you’ll only get taxed on $54,000 instead of your full salary. This is beneficial because you will likely be in a lower tax bracket after you retire.
The second main benefit of contributing to a 401(k) is the employer matching contribution, meaning that your company contributes a certain amount of money to your 401(k) based on the amount you contribute. The percentage that your company matches, if at all, depends on your specific employer. The most common 401(k) matching formula is 50 cents on the dollar, up to 6% of an employee’s salary.
Below, we’ve answered some common questions regarding 401(k) retirement plans.
How Much Should I Have in My 401(k)?
The amount of money you should have saved in your 401(k) depends on your age. For example, by age 30, you should have the equivalent of your annual salary in your 401(k). Some experts recommend you have 10 times your annual salary by age 67.
What Percentage of My Salary Should Go to My 401(k)?
Most financial experts recommend contributing 10–15% of your income to a retirement plan. In the U.S., individuals contribute a median of 12% of their salary.
How Much Will My 401(k) Be Worth in 10 Years?
To find out how much your 401(k) will be worth in 10 years, plug your specific information into the above 401(k) calculator and set your retirement age as your age 10 years from today.
As you can see, contributing to a 401(k) can allow you to invest your money easily. It’s important to note that while a 401(k) has many benefits, it’s not the only way to save for retirement. Other ways to prepare for retirement include paying off debt, following a budget, and improving your credit score.
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