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Savings look better than expected

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A recent study from Fidelity shows that savers fared better over the past 10 years than we may have feared. The average 401(k) account balance at the end of 2009 was $163,900, up from $65,800 in 1999, the New York Times reports.

The study analyzed 66,000 continuous participants in Fidelity 401(k) plans and found that the majority of returns were from worker and employer contributions. The remainder was from market returns and dollar-cost averaging.

The study found that participants are becoming slightly more conservative, and rightly so. According to the survey about 65 percent of people opted for riskier investments; of those, 69 percent had a lower return than the appropriate target-date fund. The percentage of people putting all their money into stock fell from 47 percent to 19 percent. In 2000, participants were directing about 80 percent of their contributions to stocks; that number has fallen to about 70 percent, now.