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Ret plans - info for employees

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What To Do With Your Previous Employer's Retirement Plan
"As long as you have at least $5k in the account, most plans will allow you to keep the money there. If you have company stock or any unique investment options that you'd like to keep, this may be the best option for you. It also gives you time to decide during what is likely to be a hectic time in your life." (Financial Finesse)
Participants Should Watch for Late 401(k) Deposits
"One thing participants do not review often enough is contribution deposit dates. Reviewing this information not only ensures that your employer is timely depositing your contributions, but also that any late contributions include an extra lost opportunity contribution in accordance with the [DOL] rules." (Slott Report)
The Hierarchy of Tax-Preferenced Savings Vehicles
"[T]here is still the foundational tier of savings to provide an emergency fund ... but the key point is to acknowledge that there is a hierarchy of tax-preferenced accounts -- ranging from triple-tax-preferenced accounts to accounts with no tax preferences -- and high-income earners can better limit their tax liabilities and maximize their growth by adhering to this hierarchy!" (Nerd's Eye View)
How to Use Income Tax Withholding on IRA Distributions, and When Not To
"Using withholding saves the trouble of sending a payment to the IRS yourself.... Withheld tax is treated as if it is paid at an even rate over the year even if in fact it is all paid just before year-end. This means that withholding on an IRA distribution taken just before year-end can be used to retroactively escape underpayment penalties on earlier missed quarterly estimated payments.... Quarterly payments and withholding can be used together." (Slott Report)
Top Ten Reasons Not to Save Now for Retirement
"[10] We'll sell our home and move somewhere cheaper when we retire.... [9] I'll work forever.... [8] I'll rely on Social Security or other government programs.... [7] I'm going to receive a large inheritance.... [6] My kids will take care of me.... [5] Saving reduces how much I can spend currently.... [4] I'm too young to save for retirement.... [3] We won't live that long.... [2] I'll win the Lottery.... [1] It will somehow all work out." (Ken Steiner, FSA Retired)
Could an Early Retirement Help You Live Longer?
"There's conflicting research on the connection between retirement and life expectancy.... The drawbacks of early retirement.... Finding a purpose in retirement is paramount for health and happiness." (U.S. News & World Report)
Depending on Your Age, This Will Protect You from a Social Security Fail
"Social Security remains on the cusp. Out of balance as of this year, it's doomed to go insolvent in 2034. What can people do to help protect themselves against the failure of Social Security? Here are some practical examples of how people, based on their current age, can best protect themselves (and their children) from this imminent failure." (Fiduciary News)
Expressing Projected Accumulated Savings as Lifetime Retirement Income
"[The Actuarial Lifetime Retirement Income Estimator (ALRIE)] is a more robust tool for retirement plan providers (including [DC] plan sponsors, DC plan administrators and brokerages) who want to give plan participants a better idea of how much lifetime retirement income their account balances may provide." (Ken Steiner, FSA Retired)
401(k) Deferrals: How Much Should Employees Be Contributing?
"We are back-loading contributions into our accounts rather than front-loading, contributing a lot at the end of our careers and very little at the beginning. As a result, we are missing out on all of that compounding that takes place over time. So we end up with a 401k account balance that is way too low." (Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants)
Kentucky Pension Exclusion 2018
"The State of Kentucky passed a comprehensive tax reform package in April that creates a 5% single rate individual income tax.... Kentucky workers, who will have less than $31,110 in annual income from qualifying retirement plans, can totally eliminate the Kentucky income tax of 5% on both the money they contribute to these plans and the future investment gains on those dollars." (Retirement Management Services, LLC)
Don't Miss These Retirement Milestones
"Age 50: The age you can begin making catch-up contributions to your retirement accounts ... Age 55: If you leave a job ... you can take penalty-free withdrawals ... Age 59-1/2: Make penalty-free withdrawals from all traditional IRAs and employer retirement plans ... Age 62: Earliest age at which you can claim Social Security retirement benefits ... Age 65: Enroll in Medicare ... Age 66 and 67: Full Retirement Age for Social Security ... Age 70: Claim the maximum benefit from Social Security ... Age 70-1/2: Begin taking [RMDs]." (Fidelity)
How to Build Your Own Pension with Annuities
"If you have a retirement nest egg, one thing you can do with a portion of your savings is purchase what's known as an immediate annuity. By doing so, you can essentially build your own pension and get a guaranteed income to supplement Social Security for the rest of your life." (CNNMoney)
Avoiding the Curveball of a Taxable 401(k) Loan under the New Tax Act
"Under the new Tax Act, the 60-day period was extended to the filing due date for the participant's tax return for the year in which the loan offset amount arises.... [T]his extension of time is only available for loan offsets that become taxable due to separation from employment. This extension is not available for participants that defaulted on a loan repayment while still employed." (Belfint Lyons Shuman)
Did Someone Try to Hack My Retirement Account? A Personal Cybersecurity Story
"Apparently, verification code forwarding attacks are a thing. While the issuance of [the author's] verification code does not appear to be malicious, it could have been.... While it is tempting to make login credentials the same for retirement and other financial accounts, don't do it! ... Frequently monitoring account statements for suspicious activity and reporting anything unusual (such as a verification code that wasn't received) to the recordkeeper and the appropriate party at an organization can help protect retirement plan accounts." (Cammack Retirement Group)
Three Big Reasons You're Underestimating How Much Retirement Income You Need
"[T]he 4% rule gave you a 6% chance of running out of money -- but with the intermediate-term real interest rate below historical averages, the chance of running out of money following the 4% rule went up to 57%.... 59% of retirees spend more of their Social Security benefits on healthcare costs.... [T]axes that have to be paid upon withdrawals, unless you have a Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA." (
[Official Guidance] 2017 Instructions for IRS Form 8915B: Qualified Disaster Retirement Plan Distributions and Repayments (PDF)
"Use Form 8915B if you were adversely affected by a 2017 disaster listed in Qualified 2017 Disaster Distribution Requirements ... and you received a distribution that qualifies for favorable tax treatment." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Simplify Your Retirement with These Money Tips
"Select primary accounts.... Pay off all debts.... Consolidate investment funds.... Eliminate paper.... Downsize or move to a newer home ... Rent ... Cut subscriptions and recurring expenses.... Consider an annuity." (U.S. News & World Report)
How to Generate Retirement Cash Flow by Rebalancing
"A trap some retirees can fall into when it comes to retirement income planning is limiting their strategy to interest and dividends and neglecting the power of rebalancing to capture portfolio growth as an additional income source." (Charles Schwab)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Publication 575: Pension and Annuity Income, for Use in Preparing 2017 Returns (PDF)
47 pages. "What's New: New rules provide for tax-favored withdrawals, repayments, and loans from certain retirement plans (including IRAs) for taxpayers who suffered economic losses as a result of Hurricane Harvey or Tropical Storm Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, or the California wildfires.... Beginning in 2018, a qualified plan loan offset amount may be rolled over by the due date (including extensions) for filing the tax return for the tax year in which the offset occurs." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
How to Cope with Stock Market Declines in Retirement
"Shift to more conservative investments.... Create a cash reserve.... Avoid emotional investment decisions.... Continue to invest." (U.S. News & World Report)
How to Avoid Penalties on Unpaid 401(k) Loans
"Let's say you leave your job in June, while still owing $2,000 on a 401(k) loan. If you extend your tax return for that year until October, you'd have about 16 months to pay back your loan; that's $125 per month.... Because it is unclear what type of documentation the IRS will require, make sure to keep all forms and communication you receive and consult your tax professional to help you reflect this process on your tax return. Keep in mind that this process could take a few back-and-forth letters with the IRS, due to the timing of when the 1099-R and Form 5498 are mailed." (Financial Finesse)
HSA 'Chicken' or 401(k) 'Nest Egg' -- Which Comes First?
"The important question to ask may be how to prioritize for those who have limited ability to save.... The answer depends, in part, on a number of factors, including but not limited to: geographic location, the match (if any) in the 401k plan, whether the 401k plan offers a robust loan feature, whether there is an employer contribution to the HSA and if so, whether it is in the form of a match or if it meets the comparability rules." (Plan Sponsor Council of America [PSCA])
Reasons Americans' 401(k) Balances Are Too Small
"[1] Less than full participation ... [2] Contributions that are too low ... [3] 401(k) fees that are too high ... [4] Leakages from 401(k) plans." (Motley Fool)
Choosing the Same 'Walkway' May Be Key to Couples' Retirement Success
"Decades ago, a couple's retirement decision focused on the generosity of the husband's retirement benefits and the impact the timing of his retirement had on future benefits. Not so today. Many women have accumulated substantial retirement savings, and these differences in employment and personal circumstances can complicate a couple's retirement planning efforts ... Over time, women increasingly have been retiring after their husbands." (Prudential)
Retirement New Year's Resolutions (PDF)
"Set a date.... Do the math.... Start saving as early as you can.... Save as much as you realistically can.... Increase your 401(k) savings rate with each pay raise.... Play catch up.... Review your portfolio regularly.... Plan with your partner." (Pentegra)
For Participants: A Quick-Start Guide to Your 401(k)
"Aim to save at least 15% of your pre-tax income for retirement annually--including any contribution from your employer. If 15% is too much right now, contribute at least enough to get any match from your employer and aim to save a little bit more each year. Whether you choose your own investments or choose to stick with the default investment option chosen by your employer, the key factor is investing for the future." (Fidelity)
SEC Offers Free Financial Planning Tools for Retirement Savers and Investors
This page provides links to the following tools, developed by the SEC: [1] 401(k) and IRA Required Minimum Distribution Calculator ... [2] Compound Interest Calculator and Savings Goal Calculator ... [3] Social Security Retirement Estimator ... [4] Retirement Ballpark Estimator ... [5] Mutual Fund Analyzer ... [6] 529 Expense Analyzer. (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)
Every Good Fiduciary Should Know the Answer to These 401(k) Plan Questions
"[These] commonly asked questions ... open the door for teachable lessons.... [1] Should I invest into the 401k, and will I save on taxes? ... [2] How much guaranteed interest do 401k plans earn? ... [3] Once I make the contribution how quickly can I take the money out? ... [4] Do I have to notify my employees of the plan? ... [5] Can I force employees to meet one-on-one with financial advisers? " (Fiduciary News)
Are Annuities a Viable Retirement Solution?
"There are definite advantages to annuities that may make them a suitable choice for a portion of your total retirement income, but there are some downsides that purchasers need to be aware of before incorporating them into their retirement planning." (Frenkel Benefits)
Modeling Deviations from Assumed Future Experience
"[A] reasonable amount of risk assessment and risk mitigation can be helpful in facilitating achievement of your long-term financial goals.... In addition to making assumptions about the future and periodically balancing your assets with your spending liabilities, ... periodically stress-test important planning assumptions ... so that you can possibly mitigate negative outcomes if actual future experience punches you in the mouth." (Ken Steiner, FSA Retired)
[Official Guidance] Text of DOL FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and the California Wildfires (PDF)
22 Q&As. "My employer's place of business is closed. I cannot locate my plan administrator. Who do I contact to file a claim for benefits, or to obtain replacement identification documents? ... I think I may be losing my health coverage as a result of the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires. What can I do to obtain other health coverage? ... My employer's place of business is closed due to the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires. Who should I contact to file a claim for retirement benefits or make sure that I will continue to receive my pension payments on time? ... How can I make changes in the way my 401(k) plan account is invested if it was affected by the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires? ... If my employer faces economic difficulties as a result of the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires, can my employer terminate my retirement plan, and if so, what happens to my benefits? ... All of the records concerning my employment with the retirement plan sponsor and my participation in the retirement plan were destroyed as a result of the events of one of the hurricanes or the California Wildfires. What do I do?" [Editor's note: this document seems to supercede the FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricane Harvey issued Aug. 29, 2017. It seems to contain few new provisions with respect to such persons, if any.] (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])
[Official Guidance] Text of DOL FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries Following Hurricane Maria (PDF)
23 Q&As. "The Department is issuing these FAQs to assist employee benefit plans, plan sponsors, employers and employees who were impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria to better understand their rights and responsibilities under ERISA with respect to their ERISA covered employee benefit plans. In addition to providing this general guidance, the Department has also provided an extension of time for certain notices required to be provided under ERISA for those impacted by these disasters." (Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor [DOL])
Impact of Borrowing from Your Retirement Plan
"This calculator can help you make a more informed decision about whether a loan is the right approach for your financial situation." (Smart About Money)
Younger Workers Expect to Mostly Fund Their Own Retirement
"[W]orkers aged 25 to 37 expect that 65% of their retirement income will come from their own savings and other personal sources, as opposed to just Social Security. Older generations, meanwhile, continue to be more reliant on those benefits ... [T]hat 65% figure ... is pretty on-target, assuming Social Security doesn't face sizable cuts in the future." (Fox Business)
Why You Shouldn't Borrow from Your 401(k) Account
"In effect, the loan offsets one of the chief benefits of a 401(k), the upfront tax deduction. But what if you're not in a pinch? Would it make sense to use a 401(k) loan as a convenient alternative to a loan with a higher rate? It might seem that way if interest rates were the only consideration, but those lost investment gains should be counted too. With big U.S. stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 index up more than 15 percent this year, someone who borrowed $50,000 Jan. 1 would have missed out on about $7,500 in gains. And paid interest on top of that." (U.S. News & World Report)
60-Day Rollovers: What Happens When Multiple Checks Have Been Issued?
"Individuals who receive multiple distributions from their IRA can generally roll over only one of the distributions as a 60-day rollover within a 12 month period.... There is one exception to this part of the rule. If an individual receives more than one check, from the same IRA, on the same day, then all distributions can be rolled over. This could happen if a custodian issues a separate check for separate investments in one IRA.... On the flip side of the 60-day rollover transaction, an individual can do as many deposits as they wish in order to complete a 60-day rollover." (Slott Report)
How Much Will Borrowing from your 401(k) Cost You?
"The NCPA's 401(k) Borrowing Calculator can help you determine how much a 401(k) loan will cost in terms of lost savings and investment opportunities. The calculator will: [1] Make annual comparisons of your projected 401(k) balance, with and without a loan, from the year you borrow until the year you retire. [2] Compare your monthly income when you retire, with and without a loan, based on a 30-year fixed annuity." (National Center for Policy Analysis [NCPA])
Funding Your Retirement
"When it's time to tap savings, some use the income their portfolio generates to support spending, or don't have a plan to use all sources of return and to use their assets in a coordinated way to generate the cash flow desired. That brings us to the final step of retirement planning--distribution.... Aim to cover essentials with predictable income sources ... Fund discretionary expenses with fluctuating income ... Generate cash flow when you rebalance your portfolio." (Charles Schwab)
Can Knowledge Empower Women to Save More for Retirement?
"This study assesses the role of financial knowledge and empowerment in contributing to the gender gap in savings. [The authors] evaluate the effects of financial education delivered to women in the workplace ... [and] estimate that a multi-media education effort increased participation in retirement savings by 2.6 percentage points, closing the gender gap by more than half. This result is partially explained by pre-existing trends." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
[Official Guidance] Text of IRS Publication 3125: An Important Message for Taxpayers with IRAs -- The IRS Does Not 'Approve' IRA Investments (PDF)
Rev. Sept. 2017. "If you have an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA), you should be alert to questionable advertisements and solicitations for 'IRS Approved' or 'IRA Approved' investments. These advertisements or solicitations, often for highly speculative or non-traditional types of investments, mislead by falsely claiming that the IRS has approved a particular investment." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Planning for Retirement: Financial Areas of Focus for Empty Nesters
"There are some key steps parents should consider that may help to improve retirement readiness when children leave home. [1] Increase contributions to retirement accounts.... [2] Convert IRA and 401(k) dollars into Roth dollars.... [3] Save more in Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).... [4] Convert IRA assets to HSA assets.... [5] Start planning to maximize Social Security benefits.... [6] Consider the role permanent life insurance can play to reduce risk.... [7] Pay down housing debt.... [8] Engage a financial advisor." (Prudential)
Retirement Account Loan Strategies
"[T]hings you should do before submitting your loan request[:] [1] Model the loan to make sure it doesn't put too much of a strain on your current cash flow.... [2] Compare this to your budget and adjust spending as needed. [3] Run a retirement projection to see if you are on track to reach your retirement goals. If not, determine what changes you can make now to get on track." (Financial Finesse)
Open Enrollment for Employees: How to Get the Most Out of Your Benefits in 2018
"[S]ome employers don't include retirement benefits on the menu of available health and welfare benefit options during open enrollment season ... [Y]ou might have to take matters into your own hands when it comes to your employer-sponsored retirement plan during open enrollment season.... [E]mployees who are saving for retirement, with access to a HDHP, should consider participating in their employer's HDHP, so that they can take advantage of the HSA offered with it.... [C]onsider critical illness coverage, if offered by your employer ... [M]any employers offer incentives around open enrollment for participation in health screenings, health risk assessments, and wellness activities -- this can essentially put more money back into the employee's pocket, with the added benefit of helping the employee to better understand and manage health risks." (Fidelity)
Text of IRS Publication 4482: 403(b) Tax-Sheltered Annuities for Participants (PDF)
Revised Aug. 2017. "As a participant in a 403(b) plan, you need to be familiar with the tax rules governing your 403(b) annuity so you can: [1] maximize your retirement benefits, [2] comply with the law, and [3] avoid additional taxes and penalties." (Internal Revenue Service [IRS])
Why Paying 401(k) Loan Interest to Yourself Is a Bad Investment
"[P]aying yourself 5% loan interest doesn't actually generate a 5% return, because the borrower that receives the loan interest is also the one paying the loan interest. Which means paying 401(k) loan interest to yourself is really nothing more than a way to transfer money into your 401(k) plan. Except unlike a traditional 401(k) contribution, it's not even tax deductible! And as long as the loan is in place, the borrower loses the ability to actually invest and grow the money ... which means borrowing from a 401(k) plan to pay yourself interest really just results in losing out on any growth whatsoever!" (Nerd's Eye View)
Do's and Don'ts for Beneficiary Designations
"Do: Start with how you feel.... Recognize the benefits accorded to spousal beneficiaries.... Make sure your beneficiary designations sync up with other parts of your estate plan.... Name contingent and/or partial beneficiaries.... Consider charities or other nonprofits.... Make beneficiary designation checkups part of your portfolio review.... Don't: Leave assets to minor children without understanding what that means.... Leave assets to loved ones with special needs without considering the ramifications.... Designate to someone who's not the end owner.... Stop with tax-advantaged assets.... Make inadvertent beneficiary designations." (Morningstar)
Major Behavioral Determinant of 401(k) Saving Success
"54 percent of participants with a written plan increased their 401k contributions in the past year, compared with only 33 percent of those without a written plan. Fully half of those with a written plan have rebalanced their 401k portfolio, while only 24 percent of those without a plan did." (401K Specialist)
Should You Use a Robo Advisor for Retirement Investing?
"A robo advisor may be a good fit for your IRA or taxable investments if you want to automate your investing and don't want to be involved in day-to-day decision making. Robo advisors generally aim to perform in line with the market, rather than trying to beat it, in order to capture market gains. If you want to make more customized decisions about your investments or try to beat the market, you might want to work with an investment professional." (U.S. News & World Report)
Catch 22 Situations With Retirement Plan Distributions
"Sometimes you need a particular form of distribution to achieve a certain tax result, but the retirement plan doesn't allow it. Or sometimes the tax law seems to say opposite things about the same distribution.... Retiring between age 55 and age 59 1/2.... 401(k) hardship distribution subject to the 10% penalty.... Estate wants to use the five-year payout." (Natalie Choate, in Morningstar Advisor)
Retirement Calculators: Three Good Options
"Calculators aren't capable of providing a bullet-proof analysis of the complex factors and future unknowns that will determine whether someone has done the planning and saving required to ensure a financially secure retirement. With that caveat, Squared Away found three calculators ... that do a good job. They met our criteria of being reliable, free, and easy to use. Many other calculators were quickly eliminated, because they were indecipherable or created issues on the first try." (Squared Away Blog, by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
Roth 401(k) Contributions May Be Better Than Traditional Pre-Tax 401(k)
"Assume one participant makes 10% traditional pre-tax contributions and another makes 10% Roth 401k contributions for their entire careers. Also, assume that they invest in the same funds and have the same earnings experience. Let's say they both end up with $1 million at retirement. The Roth 401k plan participant truly has $1 million, however, the traditional 401k plan participant has $1 million minus state and federal taxes. A huge difference." (Lawton Retirement Plan Consultants)
Questions to Ask When Your Company Changes Its 401(k)
"[1] Why are we changing retirement plans? ... [2] How will the new options compare to the old program's funds? ... [3] What kind of 'glitches' can I expect from the switch?... [4] What are the key dates during a 401(k) switch?... [5] Are you going to keep me in the loop during the change process? ... [6] Should I change my beneficiary forms?" (U.S. News & World Report)
401(k) Distribution Rules: Frequently Asked Questions
"When am I eligible for a 401(k) distribution? ... What's a hardship distribution? ... When can I rollover a 401(k) distribution? ... Can I leave my money in my 401(k) plan after I terminate employment? ... When must I start taking Required Minimum Distributions from my 401(k) account? ... How are 401(k) distributions taxed? ... How are distributions of Roth 401(k) deferrals taxed?" (Employee Fiduciary)
Why Wait to Retire to Take Control of Your 401(k)?
"If you're 59-1/2 years old and still working, you have the ability to roll over money from your 401(k) into an IRA.... There are four reasons why you should consider an in-service rollover: [1] You are in control of your money.... [2] An IRA gives you more investment options to choose from.... [3] There are more safe havens for your money in an IRA.... [4] You can automatically set up your account as a multigenerational IRA (or 'stretch IRA')." (Chad Slagle, via Kiplinger)
Your Retirement Plan: Set It, But Don't Forget It
"When it comes to planning for retirement, there are three commonly automated arrangements that warrant a one-off, stop-and-think review from time to time: beneficiary designations, plan participation and investment allocation." (Certified Financial Planner [CFP] Board of Standards, Inc.)
Choosing the Savings Strategy That's Right for You (PDF)
"Depending on a person's current health, family history, and lifestyle, he or she may be more or less inclined to maximize savings for medical expenses. Depending on a person's charitable giving strategy or the size of her or his family, she or he may be more or less likely to buy life insurance. Income and age make a difference, as well. That said, there is a general savings hierarchy that some experts suggest as a way to start thinking about a strategy." (Lockton)
Planning for a Safe Withdrawal Rate: Introducing the Actuarial Budget Benchmark (ABB)
"Your Actuarial Budget Benchmark is a relatively transparent annual calculation of your recurring spending budget in retirement based on your spending goals and your data, but based on a specific set of assumptions about the future, that may change each year. The calculation is designed to approximate the market value of your future spending liabilities.... The ABB can also help [to balance] a retiree's desires to avoid unnecessary fluctuations in spending and mitigate sequence of return risk." (Ken Steiner, FSA Retired)
The Basics of Target Date Funds
"Target-date funds can help retirement investors solve a few problems. With so many options on a retirement savings plan menu, it is hard to know what to choose. But selecting good investments is only one part: Investors must also pay attention to overall portfolio diversification and not take on too much risk by being concentrated too heavily in any one area.... That's where target-date funds come in." (Morningstar)
Which 401(k) Strategies Work Best?
"The most effective tools in retirement savings are not bells and whistles. They are simple, quiet and consistent.... [1] Putting savings on auto-pilot.... [2] Higher savings rates.... [3] Keeping costs low." (Forbes)
The 411 On Your 401(k): What You Should Know About Your Retirement Savings
"[1] How much money am I saving? ... [2] Do my contributions automatically increase? ... [3] Do I have a Roth option in my 401(k) plan? ... [4] Can I access my money while I am working? ... [5] How do I take my money out when I retire?" (Forbes)
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