Investing money into a 401(k) Plan used to be fairly easy. Participants would allocate a percentage of their gross pay into their plan, then watch it grow over the years until retirement. Before the last market downturn which spanned from 2008 into 2010, deciding on how much to save in a 401(k) plan along with choosing how it should be invested were secondary thoughts for many. Remember the old adage, stocks rise with the tide and lift all boats? This was the case until the plug in the drain came out and 401(k) balances were not close to what everyone thought they should be.
The market has returned over 418% since the lows of 2008!
While the market has rebounded significantly since 2008, many investors in a 401(k) plan are challenged with managing the composition of their investments. Why? One issue is the majority of 401(k) plan participants have a low level of understanding on complex investment decisions. According to a national poll spanning 10 years, only 8% of participants in retirement plans knew that money market funds only contain short-term securities. So, while the S&P 500 saw a return of 418% over the last 10 years, 92% of individuals invested in a 401(k) plan never received the retirement planning advice they needed in order to see good returns on their investments.
Financial education is important.
If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, do you receive financial education and investment advice on your plan? Do you have an opportunity to learn more about your employer’s 401(k) plan on at least an annual basis? If you answered no, then you are not alone. Currently, only 41.4% of employer sponsored 401(k) plans offer some sort of financial education for participants.
If you fall into the vast majority of individuals who don’t receive annual updates on your 401(k) plan’s performance, or have questions on how your plan is invested, don’t worry, there are resources. First, consult with your human resources department to see if they can provide you with the contact information for their 401(k) Plan administrator. If your employer doesn’t have a formal HR department, then find out who is responsible for managing the company’s retirement plan. They should be able to provide you with a name of the plan administrator.
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