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

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 2010, an employee can contribute up to $16,500 into a 401(k) plan.  Taxpayers over age 50 are allowed to contribute another $5,500 as a "catch up" contribution for a total of $22,000.  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.

Thomas F. Scanlon, CPA, CFP ®

About the author:

Karen Tedford,

5 Comments on "The 401(k) Plan…The Foundation of Your Retirement"

  1. Tim O’Brien
    Feb 4th, 2010

    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?

  2. tom-scanlon
    Feb 4th, 2010

    Tim,

    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 ®

  3. Office 2007
    Feb 26th, 2010

    Great article, thanks for the share. Blog bookmarked.

  4. Blogs
    Jun 3rd, 2010

    You made some good points there.

  5. watch Power
    Jul 16th, 2010

    Very well written and really informative.

Comments closed.