Number of Americans with $1 million saved sees big jump

A scary number of Americans have little-to-nothing saved for retirement, yet the count of those who've managed to sock a million dollars or more away for their golden years is growing. 

While still comparably teeny, the number of people with $1 million or more in their 401(k) rose to 157,000 at the end of the first quarter, a 45 percent jump from a year ago. That's according to Fidelity Investments, one of the nation's biggest administrators of workplace retirement accounts.

However, those who reached the elite status didn't get there overnight. 

In fact, most have been saving for about 30 years, Fidelity's internal analysis found. Workers who've saved 15 years had an average balance of $379,600, up from $330,200 a year ago.

Employees who've saved in a company's 401(k) plan for a decade held an average of $290,100, a record-high balance and up from $250,500 a year earlier.

"It's important to take a long-term approach to retirement savings," Kevin Barry, president of workplace investing at Fidelity Investments, said in a statement. "Making regular contributions over time is a key part of building your savings, especially a retirement nest egg."

In addition to reaping gains from the market's strong showing, other habits many of the 401(k) millionaires follow include contributing enough to get their full company match, not cashing out accounts when switching jobs and not taking out loans against their accounts. Also, Fidelity noted that the 401(k) millionaires held 76 percent of their savings in equity mutual funds.