By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – After years of hiding your eyes every time you hear the opening or closing bell, it’s finally okay to look again.

The market is getting stronger, and it appears to be taking your retirement savings with it.

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WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports
A new report from Boston-based Fidelity Investments shows 401(k) retirement accounts are almost back where they were before the recession.

The average account balance reached $74,900 as of the end of the first quarter this year. That’s up 12 percent from last year, and up a staggering 58 percent from 2009.

The market rebound is, of course, just part of the story. The rest of it has to do with individual investors – workers who are getting back into the market and putting in more money.

Chairman and CEO of Coastal Capital Group Dave Caruso says things are, in fact, looking up for a lot of his clients no matter which bank or investment house they choose.

“I’m calling it the thaw,” Caruso said. “People were frozen for a couple of years, the thaw is beginning, and I think we’re going to see more of it.”

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Caruso admits, $75,000 is nowhere near enough to retire, but he says it’s a good point to start actively managing things.

“You still need a lot more money, but you’ve got to be watching it,” he said. “Make sure that you’re keeping an eye on it, because ‘buy, hold, and hope’ isn’t a strategy anymore.”

He suggests re-balancing your 401(k) every year. If you don’t have a financial advisor at your disposal, a simple call to your 401(k) provider’s toll-free number can give you the basics.

Another tip: many 401(k) plans offer investment funds that allow you to pick a portfolio based on your anticipated retirement date. Caruso says that is a smart way to feel confident your money is doing what it’s supposed to.
Also, be ready for the market to tank again…someday. And when it does, he says, stay put.

“If you’re in it for the long term, then you’ve got to continue to put that money in. And when the markets are down, you should almost be putting more money in,” Caruso explained.

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Other advice: borrow against your growing 401(k) only under extreme emergencies.