6 Ways to Optimize Your 401(k)

    Key Summary
    Saving for retirement is a crucial step in securing your future financial freedom. Six ways to beef up your 401(k) account includes the following: make retirement savings a priority; increase the amount you contribute each year; take full advantage of employer matches; save windfalls; make catch-up contributions; and stop living beyond your means.

    Did you start your retirement savings a little late in the game? Are you worried you won’t have enough saved by the time you say goodbye to your employer? Then read on. Here are 6 ways to beef up your 401(k) or 403(b).

    1. Make retirement savings a priority.

    If you haven’t set up a 401(k), 403(b), or any other retirement plan yet, start one now. Have the contributions automatically taken from your paycheck.

    2. Increase the amount you put into your 401(k).

    See if your budget can handle a 1% increase in retirement savings each year. If your plan has an automatic increase option, use it so you don’t even have to think about it.

    3. Take full advantage of your employer’s match funds.

    Some companies offer an employer match program. If you contribute a certain percentage of your pay to your 401(k), generally 3-6%, your employer will also contribute $.50 to $1.00 for every dollar you contribute to your 401(k). That’s like free money, so make sure you’re contributing enough to get the full employer match.

    4. Save windfalls. 

    If you get a bonus at work or an unexpected amount of cash, put that money into your 401(k) instead of spending it.

    5. Make catch-up contributions

    If you’re 50 years or older, you’re allowed to defer an extra $6,000 per year to your 401(k).

    6. If you've been living beyond your means, stop.

    Get credit card debt under control. Letting debt get out of hand only make saving for retirement harder.

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