It’s Time to Take a Closer Look At Your 401(k)

When it comes to saving for retirement, most people choose to set aside a small percentage of each paycheck automatically through their company’s payroll. Even 1% adds up nicely over the course of 40 years. If your employer matches a portion of your contribution, participating in your company’s 401(K) program is a smart financial move.

October is National Financial Planning Month, so now is a great time to evaluate your savings plans. Here are two things you can do right now to keep more of your money and help the account grow faster.

Make the most of your contributions by finding and eliminating hidden fees.

Did you know that 99% of plan providers get payments from the investments they offer in your 401(k)? They call it revenue sharing, and it means that the list of investments you choose from may not be the best performing or lowest cost options.

If your employer is small, your choices are probably limited. Many providers won’t allow small companies to access low-cost funds. To make matters worse, providers charge higher fees to manage smaller groups so they can offset the lower profit.

There are a few alternatives to high-cost 401(K) plans available to employers that significantly reduce fees and high cost commissions, but many employers don’t look for them. The problem of excessive fees is so widespread that a group of big 401(K) provider employees sued their company because they didn’t want to continue to pay huge fees inside their retirement accounts.

These high fees are buried in the fine print under names like “contract asset charges” and “asset-management charges.” Now, a major supreme court ruling against Edison International makes it easier for employees to sue their company’s retirement plan administrators for failing to protect their accounts from sky-high fees.

Maximize long-term performance

A few percentage points here and there may not seem like much now, but over time it can have an incredible effect on your 401(K) balances.

The S&P 500 had an average return of 9.5% between 1938 and 2016. If you had invested $100 in the S&P 500 in 1928, your balance would have reached $301,239 by 2016. The same $100 initial deposit in 1928 at a 3.4% return would give you a balance of $1,928.

Over 88 years, the S&P 500 has had some wild swings in return rates. If you were watching your $100 investment closely, you would have seen some serious ups and downs. But those wild swings don’t matter since the ultimate goal of a 401(K) account is to provide income in the future. Your goal is a high overall return without concern for the ups and downs along the way.

If digging through the terms and conditions of your 401(k) plan agreement doesn’t sound like your idea of a fun Friday night, consider delegating the task to a company that specializes in handling retirement accounts.

You don’t have to change anything about how you contribute to your 401(k) to end up with more money down the road. The folks at blooom specialize in maximizing retirement options while eliminating hidden fees. They handle the heavy lifting for a small monthly fee.

If you aren’t knowledgeable about how retirement savings accounts work or how much you should set aside, don’t worry. People who use blooom have access to a financial advisor via live chat or phone, so it’s easy to get answers to your questions anytime.

This means you get to retire with a much bigger nest egg. You won’t need to crunch numbers or stress about how your company handles employees’ accounts.

Learn more about blooom, here.

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49 Responses

  1. Like you say, fees can really eat into long-term returns. For that reason and due to the markets’ historical performance, these days I focus on low-cost index funds.

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