Smart401k Blog

  • A Quick Guide for Reviewing Your 401k Statement

    It is time, once again, to review your 401k statement. I’m not here to sugar coat this process, because I know reviewing 401k statements can be a drag. It is full of terms, numbers and graphs that at first glance seem intimidating and time wasting. And who wants to spend their free time after work going over something that may not affect your life for another 25 years?
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  • 4 Ways to Avoid Excess Fees in Your 401k

    Anyone who has frequented our blog over the last few months knows that we have dedicated a significant amount of space discussing fees in your 401k. The articles we’ve posted range from common 401k fee terms to top questions about the recent fee disclosure requirements. We focused our efforts on this important topic to provide you information on the importance of understanding the fees in your 401k.
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  • Watch Your Behavior When Investing in Your 401k

    Many investors get in trouble the same way. Just as my son’s environment changed, the market environment can change just as dramatically. Let’s look at a few of examples from recent history. Here’s a chart of the S&P 500 Index from March 2003 to June 2007. This rally was pretty fresh off the dot-com bust and many investors were still tentative to invest. As the market continued to run up however, more investors got back in. Those that were already in may have started taking more risk in order to capture higher returns. There was more concern about missing out on gains than about losing money.
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  • 401k Help This Halloween

    Trick or treat!! Kids use the phrase as an exclamation, but, originally, it was a question. Trick or treat? Do you have a trick for me? Or a treat? When you retire, will your 401k account give you a trick or a treat? We’ve pulled together some questions to ask yourself as you look for 401k help this Halloween season.
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  • Keep Control of Retirement Though Elections and Major Market Events

    These past few weeks we’ve seen the major markets close because of a devastating hurricane along the Eastern seaboard and we’ve witnessed the end of a nasty election cycle. The markets have reopened and people on the East coast are slowly putting their lives back together. And the election is over, President Obama has been re-elected, the House and Senate remain under the same control. Many Americans believe we’re back to the same-old bi-partisan ways with little movement expected from either side of the political aisle. Add to these events rioting in Greece and uncertainty in Germany and it’s no surprise the markets are reacting. But what does this mean for your 401k and your retirement strategy?
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  • 401k Investing Behavior Unchanged With Fee Disclosure

    The Department of Labor’s fee disclosure rules, requiring participants to receive information about the fees paid in their retirement plan, have been in effect for a few months and we’re getting our first reports of the impact it has had on 401k investing. The initial findings are disappointing, but not surprising. A recent survey from the Plan Sponsor Council of America (PSCA) showed 95.9% of plan sponsors reported no change in participant behavior and just 1.4% of participants asked questions regarding the fee disclosure they received.
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  • 401k Investing Insights- PIMCO Total Return Fund

    I’m not much of a moviegoer these days. Having two young kids generally means I only visit the theater for the latest Pixar movie or just wait for the DVD release. I’m considering an exception, however, for the latest in the James Bond series – Skyfall. While I’m not a huge Bond-kind-of-guy, I’ve heard great things about this one. It’s the most recent of 23 Bond films (23!) and stars Daniel Craig, who did great in Casino Royale and is my favorite James Bond since Sean Connery.
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  • What is the Efficient Frontier and Why Does it Matter for 401k Investors?

    No pain, no gain. This simple phrase can be uttered again and again to remind us of the fact that we must always be willing to give something up to receive something in return. The tradeoff between risk and reward is fundamental to understanding 401k investing and building a retirement investing plan. While not always put into the simplest of terms, this relationship is really as simple to understand as it sounds. The more you are willing to give up, the greater the potential for reward.
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  • Saving for Retirement: Just Like Training for a Marathon

    When I’m not focused on work or family activities, I really enjoy athletics. I can’t say I’m any good, but I enjoy staying active nonetheless. When I was in middle school, I thought it would be fun to join the track team. I found I was better at endurance races, so I participated in middle- and long-distance events. I didn’t have any experience with track events, but I learned quickly that each event required a different strategy to be successful.Retirement Investing Marathon
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  • Getting Back to Basics: What is a 401k?

    It’s the holiday season and for many (including myself) this means catching up on what’s new with family and friends. These conversations usually lead to questions about my job. When I explain I work in the retirement industry, specifically 401ks, I am met with one of two reactions; one a semi-terrified look mixed with regret they bothered to ask me that question. The other (more common) reaction is a puzzled looked followed by the question, “A 401k…Is that the retirement thing I have at work?”What is a 401k
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  • Here's Your Year-End Retirement Checklist

    This post is part of Smart401k CEO Scott Hollsopple’s contribution to the U.S. News & World Report Smarter Investor blog series. To view the original article, click here. Original post date November 6, 2012. As 2012 draws to a close, you’re going to face all the usual craziness: travel, family, cooking, parties, cards, shopping, and maybe even some snow. Before your world gets too busy, schedule time to ensure you’re taking care of your year-end financial obligations.
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  • How to Work Towards Financial Peace of Mind In Retirement

    The financial crisis of the last few years altered the way many Americans save, plan and spend their money and no group was impacted more than the baby boomers. They watched as their home values dipped and their 401k balances dropped. While many have seen their retirement investments rebound, the roller coaster ride the last few years changed the way baby boomers look at saving and investing for retirement. An AIG survey of workers 55 and older released last week stated 61% of respondents top financial priority was saving enough to have peace of mind compared to only 14% who said their top priority was accumulating as much wealth as possible.
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  • Fiscal Cliff Changes - What You Need To Know

    The last minute deal out of Washington to avoid the fiscal cliff by addressing some of the income tax questions allowed Congress to delay tough decisions on spending cuts and other budget issues until later in the year. But there were decisions that may affect you and your family today. What do these decisions mean for retirement savers and 401k investors going forward? Let’s take a quick look.
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  • Fiscal Cliff Changes - Should You Convert to a Roth 401k?

    Much of the attention in the aftermath of the fiscal cliff deal focused on the new income tax structure for high-income earners, expirations of tax breaks and the extension of other benefits. There was one noteworthy addition included in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, otherwise known as the fiscal cliff bill, that has not caught media attention. It is a provision allowing retirement savers the opportunity to convert their traditional 401k funds into a Roth 401k.
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  • Beginner’s Guide to Annuities

    Considering the delicate economy and volatile stock market of the past few years, it’s easy to see why many of today’s investors would be drawn to the appeal of annuities. A recent study released by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), showed that the 3rd quarter of 2012 set a new all-time record for annuity sales. This could be a result of lingering effects of the 2008 crash leading retirement investors to the idea of financial security.
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  • What To Do With That Old 401k Account

    There are certain times during your retirement savings timeline when it is very important to develop a strategy for taking the money out of your retirement account. The most common time people start thinking about taking a distribution is when they are getting close to retirement. Smart401k President Scott Holsopple discussed creating a distribution strategy for this period in his latest U.S. News & World Report article. The other important time to have a strategy developed is when you change employers.
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  • Don't Make These Five 401k Excuses

    You can put off cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn without severe problems. But putting off your retirement contribution increases could have harsh, tangible consequences. Picture yourself at age 60 when you realize you’ll need to work another 15 years before you retire. You get the picture.
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  • 5 Tips to Help You Love Your 401k

    I have something to confess. I love my 401k. I know that may not surprise a lot of you considering I work for a company called Smart401k. But love wasn’t always present with my 401k. There was a time when I thought my 401k was nothing more than a far off concept that other people worried about. But I soon realized that not only do I need a 401k in my life, but I need to care about it to get the most out of it. While it may take a little work and time, you too can learn to love your 401k. Here are a few tips to help you.
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  • Increasing Contributions Should Be Part of Your Retirement Investing Strategy

    It is possible to win the lottery, but it is extremely rare and probably not the best option to create wealth for retirement. In this reality-show era of instant fame and overnight success, some find it difficult to think about growing wealth over the long term. But, the true reality is most of us won’t create wealth for retirement overnight. So what should you do? Plan ahead. The hardest part is getting started, so many companies are now trying to make that process easier with automatic enrollment. Typically companies that use this feature will start employees off with a low contribution rate. But, the 3% 401k contribution you start with early on in your career, while a great start, is likely insufficient to meet your longer-term goals.
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  • Rationalizing Your 401k Investing Strategy

    Do you always make the best decisions for yourself? I know I don’t. I’ve been known to have an extra piece of chocolate after the kids go to bed. Or skip the gym to spend some down time on the couch watching TV. Investors don’t always make the best decisions for themselves either. It’s no secret people can be irrational about money, especially their own. There are several books with fantastic analyses and anecdotes about our interactions with and around money; Nudge and Predictably Irrational are two of my favorites. For those interested in digging deeper into the psyche of our interaction with money I would encourage you to look into the science of behavioral finance. But for those that just want to make sure they are headed in the right direction, there are simpler steps.
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