Retire as a Millionaire – Without Winning the Lottery

Yes, you read that right. It’s possible to retire with a $1 million retirement fund without winning the lottery or getting a substantial inheritance from a rich uncle you didn’t even know existed. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), 401(k) plans of a million dollars or more make up less than 1% of all plans, but that number is growing fast. [i]

What does it take to join the million-dollar 401(k) club? Here are 4 tips to get you closer to that goal.

1. Save, save, SAVE!
This tip may seem obvious. If you want the chance to retire with a significant 401(k), you need to put money into it. And the more you contribute, the better. If your employer offers a 401(k) match, contribute at least enough to get the full amount of the match—that’s free money! Keep in mind that many employers require you to work there for a minimum number of years before you are fully vested, so stay with the company long enough to acquire the full match.

2. Time = money
Tax-deferred, compounding interest can dramatically increase your investment portfolio growth potential when you start saving early in your career, increasing the likelihood of achieving your retirement goals. Create the habit of consistently increasing your contributions as your income rises by contributing on a regular basis regardless of how the market is performing. Resist the urge to time the market and make emotional decisions. Saving for retirement is more like a marathon than a sprint.

3. Treat your 401(k) as “off limits” money
Limit unnecessary loans and distribution of funds. With a loan, you take the risk of re-buying stocks and bonds back at a higher rate while also missing out on potential growth when that money is not in your account. Even worse is taking a distribution of funds before retirement age. You will pay taxes on that money and also a 10% penalty for accessing the funds before age 59 ½. Once the money is in your 401(k), consider it unavailable for use until retirement.

4. Invest wisely
When you’re younger or trying to grow your 401(k), you may want to be more aggressive with your investments to allow for greater returns. As you get closer to retirement, it might make more sense for you to reduce your risks and make more conservative choices. However, the exact times and ages for these changes is different for everyone. CoPilot saves you time by proactively monitoring participants’ progress towards retirement goals. It provides high-quality investments options that allow you to create an appropriately diversified investment portfolio.

The truth is that most people won’t reach that $1 million mark by the time they retire. That doesn’t mean you should be worried about not having enough money to survive in your golden years. According to, a couple with Social Security benefits and half-million dollars in a retirement savings plan should still be in great shape. [ii] If you are smart about investing and committed to saving, you are on the right track.

CoPilot uses the Years of Retirement planning calculator to translate your 401(k) dollars into how many years of retirement you can afford. Let’s talk about ways to help you reach your retirement goals. Contact us online or give us a call at 800.236.7400.


[i] How to build a $1 million retirement plan.  Retrieved from:

[ii] How ordinary people retire with a million dollars.  Retrieved from:


Paul Novitski, CPFA - Financial Services Representative – - 800-236-7400 x3340

Paul is a subject matter expert on 401(k), retirement savings, participant advice, small business 401(k), investments, education on options.