The 401(k) Plan…The Foundation of Your Retirement

This article is original content written by Thomas Scanlon, CPA, CFP® of Manchester, CT.

photo: brick foundation

Many employers will offer a 401(k) to their employees.  A 401(k) plan offers many advantages to employees.  The biggest advantage is tax-deferred investing.  These accounts are not taxed until distributions are made.




For 2021, an employee can contribute up to $19,500 into a 401(k) plan.  Taxpayers over age 50 are allowed to contribute another $6,500 as a “catch up” contribution for a total of $26,000.  This catch up provision was implemented because Congress did not think people were saving enough for retirement.  Imagine that—for once they got it right.

Why should you contribute to your 401(k) plan?

  • You are on your own with your retirement.  That’s right,  Long gone are the days when someone would go and work for an employer for 30 years and then retire.  They would be eligible for a pension and get their social security benefits.  Now most companies no longer offer a pension plan.
  • Although some employers have eliminated their pension plan, many will still offer a company match.  If your employer offers a match, participate in the 401(k) plan at least up to the amount the company is going to match.

What is another big benefit to a 401(k) plan?  Having the money taken out of your paycheck automatically.  This is huge.  Remember, you can’t spend money you don’t have.

Do you want to have financial piece of mind in retirement?  Put the most you can into your 401(k) plan because you’re going to need it.

Action Item:  Employees should be participating in their employer 401(k) plan.  This should be at least up to the amount of the employer match.  For employees that aren’t covered by a pension plan, the 401(k) plan will likely be the foundation of their retirement plan.

Tom Scanlon has over thirty years experience in public accounting with an extensive background in the areas of financial, tax, and estate planning. He prides himself on providing in-depth and customized solutions to privately held businesses and their owners. He is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner®. Tom is a frequent speaker for area organizations and has  recently been quoted on CNBC, Fox 61 News and AARP's blog. Tom also has been a guest columnist for numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, Money Magazine, The Hartford Courant, The Hartford Business Journal, and The New Haven Register. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the Financial Planning Association. Active in the community, Tom supports a variety of not-for-profit organizations.

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5 comments on “The 401(k) Plan…The Foundation of Your Retirement
  1. watch Power says:

    Very well written and really informative.

  2. Blogs says:

    You made some good points there.

  3. Office 2007 says:

    Great article, thanks for the share. Blog bookmarked.

  4. Tim O'Brien says:

    Good idea, Thanks.

    I have a question – Do I have to contribute $16,500 or $5,500 if I am over 50? What is the minimum I can save each year?

    • tom-scanlon says:


      You can contribute up to $16,500 if you are under age 50. Age 50 or older can contribute an additional $5,500 for a total of $22,000. There is no minimum required. If your employer offers a match, you would want to contribute at least enough to get the match. If there is no employer match, get started with whatever you can afford to put away.

      Thomas F. Scanlon, CPA, CFP ®