You may be familiar with some well-known benefits like health insurance, a decent salary, and paid time off. But what about your 401k as an employee? If your employer matches your 401k contributions, how does it work?
According to a recent study, nearly 60% of people are not taking advantage of their employer’s 401k match.
Whether you just got a job offer or are diving into open-enrollment at your current job, it’s always a good time to maximize your benefits. After all, your benefits are part of your overall compensation.
What is employee matching?
When it comes to benefits, employee matching is often seen as one of the most desirable. But what does employee 401k matching even mean, and how might your employer implement it at work?
Essentially, employee matching is when your company matches a certain amount of money that you contribute to your 401k or other retirement accounts. For example, if you contribute 5% of your salary to your 401k, your company may match that 5%, meaning you effectively get 10% of your salary saved for retirement.
Of course, there are usually some conditions attached to employee matching. For example, many companies will only match contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary. And some companies may only offer matching if you stay with the company for a certain period of time.
So why aren’t more people taking advantage of their 401k match then? Maybe people don’t know how a 401k match works. Or perhaps they think they can’t afford to contribute to their 401k and still meet other financial obligations.
Not taking advantage of your 401k match is a huge mistake. Here’s why:
1. It’s essentially free money.
Your employer offers to give you money to help you save for retirement. If you’re not taking advantage of that, you’re leaving money on the table.
2. A 401k match can help you save more for retirement.
The more money you have saved for retirement, the better off you’ll be. A 401k match can help you boost your savings and reach your retirement goals sooner.
3. It can reduce your taxes.
When you contribute to a 401k, your contributions are made with pretax dollars. You’ll pay less in taxes now and more when you withdraw the money in retirement.
4. 401k matches can help you avoid penalties.
If you withdraw money from your 401k before 59 1/2, you’ll generally have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty. However, if you leave your 401k funds untouched until retirement, you won’t have to pay any penalties.
5. It can give you peace of mind.
When you have a 401k, you control your retirement savings. You don’t have to worry about whether or not your employer will still be around when you retire. And you can take comfort knowing that your money is safe and sound.
A quick note on 401k fees:
401k and fees can be tricky subjects. On one hand, 401k matches are great. They can help you save for retirement and get your employees to contribute more to their retirement savings. On the other hand, there are fees associated with 401k plans. These fees can eat into your savings and wealth generation.
There are two types of fees associated with 401k plans: administrative and investment fees. Administrative fees are charged by the plan administrator for things like record keeping and customer service. Investment fees are charged by investment managers for things like buying and selling investments, and they can vary based on the type of investments you choose.
401k fees can be a drag on your savings, but there are ways to minimize them. First, you can shop around for a plan with lower fees. Second, you can ask your employer to cover some or all of the fees. Finally, you can invest in low-cost index funds, which tend to have lower fees than actively managed funds.
In short, 401k fees can be a pain, but there are ways to minimize them. By taking the time to understand how employer 401k matching works, you can ensure your 401k is working for you and not against you.
Bottom line: take advantage of 401k matching.
A 401k match is a great way to boost your retirement savings as an employee. If you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re missing out on free money that could help you reach your retirement goals sooner. So if you have a 401k, make sure you’re contributing enough to get the full match from your employer. It’s one of the smartest things you can do for your future. Be sure to talk to your HR department and see if it’s an option at your company. It could be the difference between a comfortable retirement and just getting by.
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