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A blog about living in and planning for retirement

401k - All posts tagged 401k

  • Oct 19, 2012
    3:09 PM ET

    401(k) Plan Perks Grow, but Savings Still Lag

    Workers are getting a little more help from their employers when it comes to retirement saving, but many are still falling short in building their nest eggs.

    After suspending or slashing their matches of employees’ 401(k) contributions  during the recession, most companies have restored them. In 2011, the percent of companies making those matches increased…

  • Oct 17, 2012
    6:42 AM ET

    A price-cutting war in your 401(k)

    The jury is still out on Washington’s big effort to wring costs out of America’s 401(k) system by making the industry disclose those costs more clearly. But a wave of recent price cuts by big-name mutual fund companies suggests that the new reform efforts are gaining traction.

    In recent months, MFS, Putnam, John Hancock, Janus and Columbia separately began offering cheaper versions of many of their funds [...]

  • Oct 16, 2012
    6:18 PM ET

    States Try the Retirement-Plan Business

    It’s a major fiscal problem: More than 50% of working-age Americans have no retirement plan coverage at work. For years, policy makers have been searching for ways to address the problem by enticing small businesses to offer their employees 401(k)-style retirement plans.

    Now, legislators in a few states are taking a different tack, backing new initiatives that would shift the responsibility for setting up the retirement plan – and picking investment options – to the government.

  • Oct 11, 2012
    8:03 PM ET

    Class warfare in your 401(k)?

    The statement that a sandwich from the local sub shop should cost exactly $5 for everybody in America, rich and poor alike, is fairly uncontroversial. The statement that everybody in America, rich and poor alike, should pay exactly $10,000 a year in taxes might embroil the speaker in a pretty heated argument. Ian Salisbury’s story today on MarketWatch, regarding a debate over a heretofore obscure 401(k) fee, brings both hypotheticals to mind.

  • Oct 10, 2012
    2:45 PM ET

    Explaining 401(k) costs to consumers

    How cheap or expensive is your 401(k) plan? While new government regulations require employers to disclose to employees the fees they pay, some are finding it difficult to decipher the total—or throw the disclosures away before reading them. (Employers, meanwhile, are having similar problems.)

    Now, a Redwood City, Calif. company is offering a free online tool that promises to quickly analyze an investor’s 401(k) plan and offer a ballpark idea of how much it costs.

  • Oct 9, 2012
    5:02 PM ET

    401(k) paperwork gets mixed grades on clarity

    A lot is riding on the 401(k) industry’s new disclosure rules, which the Department of Labor hopes will give small business owners a plain-English explanation of what their retirement plans cost to run. But while some of these new forms are getting high marks, others appear to be adding to the confusion. (See our take here.)

    Just what do the new documents look like? To give readers a sense of the feel, we asked Boston-based consulting firm Dalbar to give us two examples, one which earned high marks and one which earned low marks.

  • Oct 8, 2012
    8:11 AM ET

    Employers: Most Workers Don’t Make Good Use of 401(k)s

    Is a 401(k) retirement plan “adequate” if most workers who use it aren’t prepared for retirement?

    That’s the question raised by a new study from benefits consulting firm Towers Watson. The 401(k) system has come under a lot of criticism since the financial crisis hammered workers’ nest eggs. But the study, which polled about 370 large employers, suggests there may be a big gap between how managers and workers view the issue — and that managers don’t necessarily have a high opinion of the hoi polloi.

  • Oct 4, 2012
    4:41 PM ET

    The Tax Perils of Working After 65

    Today’s society sends older workers signs—some subtle, others not so much—that it’s time to hang it up at age 65, says Olivia Mitchell, professor of business economics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Americans can start collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62; they can start withdrawing money from their […]

  • Sep 25, 2012
    8:27 AM ET

    Scared Straight: Boomer Woes Inspiring Millennial Savers

    In the Wall Street Journal today, E.S. Browning finds a silver lining in the financial struggles of the Baby Boomer generation: The boomers’ kids are getting their acts together. Americans in their mid-30s or younger are more likely than they were 10 years ago to be taking part in their workplace 401(k); they’re less likely to have credit card debt, and card balances are smaller among those who have them. What’s motivating them, in many cases, is having watched their parents lose their jobs and hit bottom in the Great Recession. (Browning’s most succinct generation-gap moment, for my money, is this quote: “’What if life throws me a curve ball like that?’ said the 27-year-old radio DJ.”)

    Some point/counterpoint in the Comments section about how if these kids were really smart, they’d be stockpiling gold and silver and preparing for the government’s looming Debtpocalypse. Pithiest reader comment, from one “Donald Dewitt”: “Deferred gratification is difficult – unless the fear of scarcity is greater.

  • Feb 21, 2012
    11:56 AM ET

    Penalty-Free Ways to Raid a 401(k)

    Thinking about raiding your retirement funds? There are ways to do so without triggering the dreaded 10% penalty on early withdrawals.

    First a little background. When you save in a tax-deferred 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account, Uncle Sam lets you contribute money on a tax-deferred basis. You don’t have to pay income taxes until the money is withdrawn. To encourage people to save for retirement, the IRS imposes a 10% penalty on those who break into these accounts before reaching age 59 1/2.

About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.