In the early 1980s, the 401K plan was introduced as a potential supplement to the pension plans offered by employers. Now, they are a staple of retirement planning, while pensions are available to fewer workers than ever before.
A 401K allows workers to set aside a certain amount of their salary and invest into a variety of mutual funds. Often, companies will match contributions up to a certain amount. These plans can be powerful vehicles for amassing great wealth in retirement, but the founders of these plans recently voiced concerns that the plans are inadequate for many people, and that they were never meant to replace pensions altogether.
For sure, 401K plans place more of the savings burden and risk onto the individual than pensions do. And many plans are lousy, with high fees and poor investment choices. So, what to do? Here’s how to build that big retirement fund even when you’re at the mercy of the 401K.
1. Save Up to the Match, Regardless
You may be annoyed that a 401K is all your employer has to offer, but if the company is offering to match contributions, you’d be a fool not to participate. Even if the plan has lousy mutual funds with high fees, free money is still free money. Most good companies offer at least 50 cents for every dollar you contribute up to a certain amount, and that can add up to a lot of dough over time.
2. Get an IRA
A 401K is not the only vehicle for saving for retirement. Individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, offer some good tax advantages and better flexibility than a 401K. There’s no company match for an IRA, but you have the ability to invest in just about anything. That’s why many investors will put money in a 401K up to the company match, then put any additional savings in IRAs. Most people can contribute $5,500 annually into an IRA. With a traditional IRA, any money you contribute is deducted from your taxable income. With a Roth IRA, your money is taxed right away but you don’t have to pay tax…