We stashed more cash in 401(k) retirement plans this spring, but our balances fell

Five golden eggs

We contributed more to our 401(k) plans this spring, but not enough to offset a declining market.

At least that’s what Fidelity Investments found when it analyzed the 11.9 million accounts it manages.

The Boston-based mutual fund company's regular reports are one of the best ways to follow what’s going on with these employer-based retirement plans and judge how well your 401(k) is coming along.

During the second quarter of the year -- that’s April through June -- Fidelity says its customers put an average of $1,660 into their retirement plans, or about $30 more than they did during the same three months of 2011.

Unfortunately the S&P 500 fell 2.8% during the quarter as investors fretted over everything from the financial crisis in Spain to slow job growth here at home.

That caused the average balance in Fidelity’s 401(k) accounts to fall 2.5%, to $72,800.

But that’s still substantially higher than in 2009, when the average balance fell as low as $46,200 during the worst days of the recession.

If you’re wondering how to build the balance in your 401(k) more quickly, check out our 7 rules for a successful 401(k).

It’s a step-by-step plan for making the most out of your employer’s retirement plan.

And make sure you’re not tempted into trying any of these bad ideas to boost your 401(k) plan.

Join all of the savvy savers following Interest.com on Twitter and Facebook.