New Book - Coming November 2010

New Book - Coming November 2010
Help! My 401(k) Has Fallen - And Must Get Up!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Match Game

Employers want you in the 401(k) plan at work. The more money which is in their plan, the lower the fees should be. Also, because they most likely do not offer a pension, they want to be sure they are doing their part in helping you to save for retirement.

Many 401(k) plan sponsors are focusing on two features: automatic enrollment and automatic increases in savings as an employee's pay goes up. However, one of the biggest factors which drives plan participation is the matching contribution. Money Magazine writer Penelope Wang wrote in her March 2010 article Make the Best of a Bad 401(k) that in 2009, matches had dropped off due to the sluggish economy.

Matching contributions are great for employers though. They provide a tax deduction and studies have shown that it is a great way to get employees involved with the plan. 401(k) Plans with a match have higher particpation rates than those with no match.  

Matching formulas vary widely. According to Schwab, one of the most common formulas for matching is for the employer to offer a 50% match of an employees deferred salary up to a 6% contribution. In English, that means that the most they put in for you is 3% of your pay - and you have to put in 6% to get that.

Here is an example. Let's say that Bob earns $60,000/year at ABC Company. He puts 6% of his pay into
his 401(k) - $3,600.

                    Bob's Salary (before taxes)                        $60,000
                    Bob's 401(k)                                               $3,600
                    Bob's Taxable Pay                                     $56,400
                    ABC Match                                                 $1,800
                    Total contribution into Bob's 401(k)              $5,400

Now if Bob bumped up his contribution to 10%, he would still only get $1800 from ABC. Many advisors (myself included) believe that we should be saving 10% or more into a 401(k) plan. Over a long period of time, this should allow someone to replace approximately 75% of their income at retirement.

Let's see what happens if Bob decides to put in 10%.

                    Bob's Salary                                               $60,000
                    Bob's 401(k)                                                $6,000
                    Bob's Taxable Pay                                      $54,000
                    ABC Match                                                  $1,800
                    Total contribution into Bob's 401(k)              $7,800 

Changing his contribtuion from 6% to 10% gives him an extra $2,400/year into the plan. My book, Help! My 401(k) Has Fallen - And Must Get Up! shows that this could be huge over time. The other plus is that even though Bob raises his contribution by $2,400/year, his take home pay after taxes should only be about $1,800 less because the taxes are deferred on this. $1,800/year works out to less than $35/week.

$35/week - that's all!!

Over a 25 year period, if Bob was able to get a 7% average return on his 401(k) plan, here is the difference between 6% and 10% This also includes the employer match of 3% (50 cents per dollar, up to 6%).
The difference after 25 years is $157,493!! 

6%   ($3,600) = $359,789
10% ($6,000) = $517,282
Difference      = $157,493

You can contact me in the South Bend, IN area for 401(k) rollovers. My website is
Get a FREE REPORT titled "The 5 Biggest Problems With 401(k) Plans - And How To Fix Them!"

My book, Help! My 401(k) Has Fallen - And Must Get Up! is written to help everyday people to get more from their retirement savings. My radio program, Improving Your Financial Health is also heard weekly on WHME-FM in South Bend, IN and archives are available on my website.