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Record IRA contributions may not save retirement

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Consumers' IRA contributions have hit record levels—but are the extra funds enough to save for retirement?

Account-holders contributed an average $4,150 during tax year 2013, an all-time high, according to a new report from Fidelity Investments. That tally represents a 5.7 percent increase from 2012. (See chart below for a breakdown of average contributions by age.)

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"Investors are putting their money where their mouth is by committing to save more for retirement," said Kevin Hevert, vice president of Fidelity Investments. Investors have previously told Fidelity that saving more was a key financial goal, he said, and the rise in contributions shows that's more than a New Year's resolution.

IRA contributions for tax year 2013

Age group
Average Roth IRA contribution
Average Traditional IRA contribution
Overall average contribution
20-29 $3,370 $3,310 $3,300
30-39 $3,480 $4,210 $3,540
40-49 $3,660 $4,410 $3,820
50-59 $4,720 $5,100 $4,730
60-69 $5,200 $5,140 $4,990
70+ $5,040 $4,960 $4,960
All ages $4,690 $4,027 $4,150
SOURCE: Fidelity Investments.

The report comes on the heels of another Fidelity study last week, showing that increased contributions and the bull market pushed 401(k) and IRA balances to record highs during the second quarter of this year. Average 401(k) balances reached $91,000, up 12.9 percent from a year earlier, while the average IRA balance was $92,600, a 14.7 percent increase.

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Although it's a bright spot that consumers are saving more, investors still have a long way to go. Even contributing the maximum $5,500 to an IRA ($6,500 for consumers age 50 and older) won't be enough for many consumers to have a comfortable retirement, said Sam McPherson, a certified financial planner based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Failing to save is a lost opportunity.

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"I'm always trying to convince [clients] of the wisdom of putting away what they can," he said. "Every year, you get closer to the day you're going to stop earning a regular income."

By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant

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