This 401k calculator will help you estimate how much you can save if you contribute to the 401k retirement plan and how long your annuity will last.

In the text, you'll find useful information about the 401k withdrawal calculator and answers to the most common questions regarding 401k retirement plan, including:

  • When can you withdraw from 401k? (What is the 401k withdrawal age?)
  • What are 401k contribution limits in 2021?
  • How high is the maximum 401k contribution?
  • What are 401k investment options?

We'll also check what is the average 401k return and average 401k balance by age.

Before deciding on a type of retirement plan, you might want to consider other options like an IRA, a Roth IRA (IRA — Individual Retirement Account), a 403b plan, or a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

If you are more interested in the 403b plan, check our 403b calculator.

What is a 401k?

Let's start with the basics — what is a 401k?

401(k) is one of the most popular types of retirement savings account. The name comes from a subsection of the IRS Code (Internal Revenue Services) which specifies its rules. An employer usually sets it up; otherwise, it's called a self-directed 401k. The money that goes to 401k is deducted from your paycheck before taxation.

401k benefits: How does 401k work?

Employers can offer 401k as a job benefit. They can also match your contributions. For example, for each dollar you put into account, they give you 50 cents. Matching is the major advantage of 401k.

Another asset is the deferred tax — the contributions are deducted from your gross pay, so you don't pay tax on it until you withdraw it.

401k matching & 401k vesting period

In the context of 401k accounts, matching means that your employer puts extra money into your retirement savings account (on top of your salary), and the amount is proportional to your contributions.

How exactly the matching works depends on the given 401k plan. Usually, employers match a certain amount of your contributions up to a set limit. The percentage rarely goes above 6% of your salary.

There are two types of 401k matching:

  • 100% match — each dollar you contribute to 401k is followed by a dollar from your employer, up to a specific limit.

    For example, if you earn $10k monthly and pay 3% of your salary — $300 — into 401k , your company pays in another $300. In total, each month, $600 goes to your retirement savings.

  • Partial matching (anything less than 100%) — a given percentage of your contributions follows your input.

    For example, the company offers you a 50% matching. If you contribute 3% of your salary — $300, they contribute $150.

401k vesting period is the time you have to work for a company before the matched contributions are fully yours. If you resign before the end of the 401k vesting period, the employer may keep some of the contributions they've made. Make sure to check your company's policy.

Omni's 401k calculator

Let's go through the variables included in this 401k calculator, what they mean, and how they influence your final 401k balance:

  • In the top field you can specify if:

    • You know how much you want to withdraw and want to know how long the saved money will last; or
    • You want to input the estimated time until retirement and want to find out how much you'll be able to withdraw.
  • Annual salary — if you transfer a specific percentage of your income to the 401k account, then, obviously, the bigger the salary, the more money you contribute.

  • Your age — determines how much time you have to save until your retirement.

  • Retirement age — the earlier you retire, the less time for saving you have. If you want to retire early, don't forget the early withdrawal penalty.

  • Current 401k balance — how much money you already have in the savings account will significantly impact your final balance because it will earn interest for the whole lifetime of the account.

  • Your contribution rate — this may influence your employer's input. Keep in mind the maximum 401k contributions.

  • Employer match — what part of your input will your employer meet?

  • Employer matching limit — when you exceed the limit, the employer's contribution rate will equal the maximum. For example, say you transfer 15% of your salary to 401k, the employer matches 100%, and the matching limit is 6%. This means that your company contributes only 6% of the amount of your salary, not the full 15% you are paying in.

  • Rate of return — determines how fast your money grows. 5% annual rate of return means that every year you earn 5% of the amount on your account.

  • Time spent in retirement — which equals your lifespan − retirement age. The longer you'll live, the more savings you'll need.

  • Income tax — 401k contributions are pre-tax, but you need to pay an income tax once you start withdrawing the money. The tax bracket depends on your earnings.

  • Withdrawal frequency — choose how often you wish to take the money out (the rarer the withdrawals, the more time the money has to accumulate interest).

The advanced mode of the 401k calculator and results

If you switch on the advanced mode (below the 401k calculator), you'll see some additional fields:

  • Salary growth rate — hopefully, you'll be getting pay raises. If it's equal to the inflation rate, the salary practically stays the same.

  • Timing of contributions — choose if you contribute money at the beginning or end of the period (month/year/etc.).

  • Compounding method — here, you can determine how often the interest accumulates.

  • Timing of withdrawals — choose if you receive money at the beginning or end of the period (month/year/etc.).

  • Inflation — it's worth knowing that $100 today may be worth more than $100 in 10 years. Inflation will influence the buying power of your pension.


  • Early withdrawal penalty — if you don't qualify for a hardship distribution, you'll need to pay a 10% penalty to access your 401k funds before the age of 59.5.

  • Balance at first withdrawal — the amount of money accumulated in your 401k account.

  • Yearly/monthly/other withdrawal — if you go for annual annuities, the sum left on your account can still generate income.

  • Total withdrawal — the sum of all your withdrawals.

  • Total contribution — how much money you and your employer have put into 401k over the years.

  • Total return — how much your account has earned.

You can also display a chart and a payment schedule to see how your 401k balance will change over time.

Keep in mind that we don't check if you exceed the current year's contribution limits.

401k contributions limits. How much can I contribute to my 401k?

IRS puts limits on employer matching and they change almost every year. As of 2021, employees can contribute up to $19,500 (not including employer's contributions). The maximum of your and your employer's contributions is $58,000. If you're 50 or older, you can make an additional catch-up contribution of $6,500.

Self-directed 401k

Self-directed 401k is a type of a 401k account for the self-employed. It gives the owner more control over investments made from the accumulated money and allows for more 401k investment options than the traditional 401k.

The allowed investment options include real estate, notes, tax liens, precious metals, loans, and private placements. With the freedom in making decisions comes the responsibility and the risks, so the self-directed 401k is an option for people well-versed in finance.

How much to contribute to 401k?

As for many other big questions — the answer is: "it depends". It depends on your age, financial situation, lifestyle, health, priorities, and so on. You need to consider how much money you'll need, when you'll start saving, when you are planning to retire, how many years of retirement you'll need money (the life expectancy), and how much you earn.

That being said, finance experts generally advise contributing enough to get the maximal matching contribution. For example, if your employer offers a matching contribution with a 4% limit, you should probably transfer at least 4% because it's "free money" from your employer.

Hopefully, this 401k retirement withdrawal calculator can help you make the right decision. It'll help you check how your future pension changes depending on your monthly 401k contributions.

401k withdrawal age: When can you withdraw from 401k?

You can start withdrawing your pension once you're 59.5 years old. If you withdraw earlier, you'll have to pay the 401k penalty (10%, as of 2021) unless you meet the criteria for a hardship distribution (see the following paragraph).

We took the 401k penalty into account in this 401k withdrawal calculator.

Early withdrawal & 401k penalty

Usually, if you want to access the money before the age of 59.5, you will have to pay the penalty of 10%. However, an early withdrawal is not always allowed.

Retirement plans may permit hardship distributions and loans (you can borrow money from your 401k account), but specific rules depend on the plan you enrolled on.

A hardship distribution is a withdrawal of the money without a 401k penalty in case of including medical and funeral expenses an immediate and heavy financial need.

The employer providing 401k decides whether and in what situations you can take the hardship distribution; the IRS decides whether you need to pay the penalty.

401k withdrawal — taking money out of 401k

If you retire at the age of 59.5, you can start taking money out of your 401k and can't contribute anymore. To be able to contribute, you'd need to roll over the 401k into an IRA (Individual Retirement Account).

Depending on your 401k plan's rules, you can withdraw the money in lump sums or receive regular annuities. If you go for the regular distributions, the rest of the money is still invested.

Either way, when you withdraw money, you'll have to pay an income tax on it.

You don't have to withdraw the money until you're 72. After that, you have to start taking the money out. The Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) depend on the amount you saved and your life expectancy.

This 401k withdrawal calculator can help you estimate the amount you'll be able to take out.

Average 401k balance & average 401k return

Below you can see the median and average 401k balance by age in the United States. The table is based on Vanguard's Report from 2019.


Average 401(k) balance

Median 401(k) balance

Under 25



25 to 34



35 to 44



45 to 54



55 to 64



65 and up



The rate of return of the 401k depends on the asset allocation (which 401k investments you choose) and the market situation. Generally, the more risk involved, the more you can earn on an investment. The average 401k rate of return is around 5-8%.


Please bear in mind that this calculator gives approximated numbers. All payment figures, balances, and interest figures are estimates based on the data you provided in the specifications that are not exhaustive despite our best effort.

For this reason, we created the calculator for instructional purposes only. Still, if you experience a relevant drawback or encounter any inaccuracy, we are always pleased to receive useful feedback and advice.

Rita Rain and Tibor Pál, PhD candidate
I'd like to know...
how much can I withdraw?
Accumulation phase
Annual salary
Current age
Retirement age
Current 401k balance
Your contribution rate
Employer match
Employer matching limit
Expected rate of return
Payout phase - retirement withdrawals
Time spent on retirement
Income tax
Withdrawal frequency
Expected rate of return
$312.5 goes to your 401k monthly.
You can withdraw $870.95 (after tax) at the beginning of each month to deplete your 401k balance entirely.
Balance at first withdrawal$205,359.05
Monthly withdrawal (after tax)$870.95
Total withdrawal (after tax)$209,027.50
Total contribution$150,000.00
Total return$87,531.25
Number of withdrawals240
Last withdrawal onJan. 25, 2084
chart of balances
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