Inside America's Savings Plans

How Americans Save

Ascensus’ annual Savings Trends report reveals how individuals are saving for their financial futures

Proprietary Data Offers Valuable Insights into How Americans Are Contributing to 401(k)s, 529 College Savings Plans, Health Savings Accounts, and ABLE Accounts

DRESHER, Pa., Nov. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Ascensus—whose technology and expertise helps millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—has released its annual savings trends report, Inside America’s Savings Plans. As the nation’s largest independent recordkeeping services provider and government savings facilitator, Ascensus offers a unique, comprehensive perspective into how Americans are saving for the future.

The report provides insight into the savings behaviors of 401(k), 529, health savings, and ABLE account holders on the Ascensus platform and reveals how key elements of plan design can impact savings outcomes.

This represents the first annual report in which Ascensus has incorporated data on ABLE savings behaviors; the firm will continue to share insights into the development of this new market as more Americans begin to invest in these specialized accounts to support beneficiaries living with disabilities or blindness.

The following trends reflect how savers are leveraging and engaging with tax-advantaged savings vehicles administered by Ascensus.

Savers are beginning to recognize the importance of starting to save early in their adult lives

  • Retirement savers ages 25 to 34 are most likely to be on track to meet their retirement goals
  • More than half of all new 529 accounts are opened when beneficiaries are aged five or younger

Account owners and plan sponsors alike are seeing value in making saving automatic

  • Automatic features continue to boost retirement plan participation rates. Plans designed with automatic enrollment features see an average participation rate of 80%, which is 10 percentage points higher than participation in plans without automatic enrollment
  • 529 and ABLE account owners leverage automatic savings to make the contribution process more regular and easier to manage
  • By pairing HSAs with high deductible health plans and enabling payroll direct deposit, employers help employees build a health savings foundation

Savers are making progress toward their goals but are still facing an overall savings deficit.

  • 401(k) account balances across all generations and income ranges are relatively low compared to what most experts suggest will be required to cover retirement goals.
  • The average 529 account balance for beneficiaries ages 16 to 17 would cover slightly more than half of a “two plus two” college education, consisting of two years at a community college followed by another two at a public university.1

“Our analysis offers some preliminary answers as to how and when individuals are saving for a more secure financial future,” states David Musto, president at Ascensus. “But at its core, it confirms that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to planning for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare.”

at its core, it confirms that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to planning for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare

“Employers, state governments, and financial advisors continue to play an integral role in encouraging individuals to make the most of the savings tools available to them,” concludes Musto.



For additional trends and insights from Ascensus, visit
About Ascensus
Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit View career opportunities at
1Average Published Undergraduate Charges by Sector, 2017-18. Source: The College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges.