Retirement plan participants using an online tool save at an average rate of 39% higher than other plan participants, according to a study by Principal Financial Group of its clients.

Principal first launched the tool, called My Principal Edge Milestones, in 2008. The online feature evaluates retirement savings and then provides an investment plan towards a specific savings goal.

To date, 94,000 of Principal’s 401(k) plan participants have used the online tool. Those users have a higher deferral rate of 2.5% versus those who have not used the tool, or 8.9% compared to 6.4%, based on a sample group. That higher savings rate could mean an additional $150,000 in retirement savings, said Principal Vice President of Individual Investor Services Barrie Christman.

Principal also analyzed a sample group from 30,000 first-time users of the tool in 2010. From that group, Principal found that 46% started deferring or increased their deferral amount. Clients who deferred for the first time did so at a 7% higher rate than general plan participants. In addition, clients who used the tool increased their deferral at a rate of 56%.

Principal works with business, institutional and individual clients to provide retirement and investment services, banking and health and life insurance.