Smart401k Blog

  • Retirement Plan Loans, Withdrawals and Distributions Quick Guide (Infographic)

    Learn the basics about the loan, withdrawal and distribution options available in your retirement plan along with some interesting statistics on Americans pulling funds from their retirement accounts with our new infograhic.
    Full story
  • 5 Ideas to Help Jumpstart Your Retirement Savings Plan

    Saving is critical when building a retirement nest egg. Retirement professionals suggest we should aim to save 10 – 15% of our compensation for our retirement years. All too often, the saving portion of a retirement plan is overlooked, with investment strategy receiving the lion’s share of our attention. So with this week being the seventh annual America Saves Week, it’s a great time to address the often ignored portion of your retirement plan and take a look at a few ideas to help you jumpstart your retirement savings.
    Full story
  • Keeping With Your Long-Term Retirement Investing Plan, Even When Times Are Good

    It is said that two human emotions control the markets: greed and fear. One of the unwritten tasks in an advisor’s job description involves holding the hand of a fearful investor. Fear can be healthy in the proper context, but it’s important to keep a clear mind to analyze what’s really happening. What sometimes goes unacknowledged and unchecked is the other controlling emotion: greed.
    Full story
  • Dollar-Cost Averaging’s Powerful Role in 401k Investing

    The earlier you get started saving for retirement, the better. It’s one of those phrases that seems to state the obvious, but if you haven’t started investing and planning for retirement already, the best time to do so is NOW. Thanks to a fancy investment term know as dollar-cost averaging, along with the effects of compounding, getting started ASAP can be your strongest ally in the fight to reach your retirement goals.
    Full story
  • How to Take 401k Withdrawals

    Thinking of taking a withdrawal from a retirement account while you’re still working? There’s a lot to consider. Understand there is a difference between taking a withdrawal and taking a loan from your employer-sponsored plan. Just as with a regular loan, when you take a loan from your 401k you will pay back the amount you take out, with interest. For the purposes of this article we’re focusing just on withdrawals— taking money out of your employer-sponsored retirement plan that you will not be able to pay back.
    Full story
  • Quality of Life Matters in Retirement Saving

    We can really redefine the meaning of "rich" within the retirement sphere. Being wealthy in retirement could mean having enough money to feel comfortable and secure while enjoying a retirement lifestyle that allows you to participate in many of the hobbies and activities you enjoy—defining these goals will help you determine your replacement ratio. But the idea of being rich will have a different significance for every individual. Whether an individual feels wealthy is typically tied to financial stability. Some people in higher tax brackets don’t feel rich, often because they believe they've stretched beyond their means. Plus a high income doesn't mean a high net worth.
    Full story
  • Rethinking Your Retirement Withdrawal Rate

    For many retirement investors, their main focus is socking away enough money to have built a sufficient nest egg by retirement age. It’s easy to overlook a key principle of retirement planning: it may not matter how much money you retire with if you don’t have a carefully thought out withdrawal strategy to see you through retirement.
    Full story
  • Do You Have a Retirement Gap?

    If you've taken the initial retirement planning steps—setting some money aside and investing it— you've set a course. Using your existing investing strategy and savings rate, we could create a line graph estimating the growth trajectory for your retirement nest egg. There are no guarantees, but we can make educated estimates.
    Full story
  • 5 Numbers Every 401k Investor Should Know

    Of the many retirement planning and investing advertisements I’ve seen over the last few years, one campaign in particular sticks out. You are probably familiar with it also; each ad featured a large number, representing the amount of retirement savings, floating above people’s heads as they went about their daily lives.
    Full story
  • 5 Ways to Sabotage Your Nest Egg

    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 March 26 , 2013 There are many things you can do to optimize your 401(k), other retirement accounts, and overall retirement strategy. Then there are a few things you just shouldn't do. Here are five ways to sabotage your own retirement nest egg:
    Full story
  • A Game Plan to Boost Your Retirement Confidence

    Every day it seems that some sort of economic survey, study or report is released indicating the current state and trajectory of the economy. For the most part, 2013 has shown relatively upbeat headlines and signs that the U.S. economy is on the mend – the major market indices have made up their losses from the financial crisis, the Dow and S&P 500 continue to set new all-time highs, the unemployment situation is improving (albeit slowly) and housing has begun to recover.
    Full story
  • What Are Your Real Retirement Costs?

    A major element of the retirement planning process is calculating the amount of money you need to save in order to live the way you want to during retirement. As you’re calculating your retirement savings goal, consider all of the potential expenses you may encounter after you retire. The more expenses you forget to include, the less reliable your planning will be. Here are five important yet often-overlooked retirement costs that you’ll want to consider.
    Full story
  • 4 Rules to Help Keep Emotion Out of 401k Investing

    Philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, “Control your emotion or it will control you.” He wasn’t necessarily thinking about investor behavior when he first uttered those words, but he may well have been. It’s easy to become emotional when it comes to investing. After all, you worked hard for the money you’ve invested, and your ability to eventually retire depends on how much that money grows. Your emotions can keep you from thinking clearly and cause you to make investment decisions that may be detrimental to your long-term goals.
    Full story
  • A Beginner's Guide to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

    Talk of retirement investing generally seems to revolve around 401k plans and IRA accounts. This is understandable, given the high number of American workers clocking into private sector jobs on a daily basis. However, while private companies employ a large portion of the population and may dominate the 401k world, the Federal Government is actually one of the country’s largest employers. Anyone working as a government employee or member of the military has likely heard of the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is essentially a 401k in disguise.
    Full story
  • 7 Must-Do's When You Open a 401k

    Congratulations to anyone who’s decided to enroll in a 401k plan! Putting money into your 401k at work is still the easiest — and many experts argue the best — way to save for retirement. But it takes some thought and action on your part in order to truly maximize the benefit.
    Full story
  • Is Your 401k’s Brokerage Option Right For You?

    Designing a retirement plan can be a very challenging task for an employer, as no two employees are exactly alike when it comes to investment knowledge and experience. Studies have shown that many employees feel overwhelmed if too many investment options are available in a retirement plan. On the other hand, some are experienced investors who prefer having a large number of investment options.
    Full story
  • 5 Ways to Tame Investing Fears

    It’s possible to spiral into a fear- and anxiety-driven frenzy where the ultimate fright is losing one’s retirement savings. Here’s how such a tale of horror could read in an investor’s mind (imagine this being spoken with increasing volume, pitch, and speed as hysteria sets in): In 2008, the market dropped. I lost some money. 2009 was shaky. The recovery has been bumpy. I still remember when the dotcom bubble burst! And what about the 1970s recession? And the Great Depression? And now economic numbers are mixed. I’m afraid I’ll lose all my money! Should I get out or go all-in or move to gold or buy more company stock?
    Full story
  • Should You Put Your 401k Investing on Autopilot?

    When it comes to your 401k, you are the pilot. You have control over how much money to contribute and how to invest your contributions. And like a pilot flying an airplane, you can put your account on autopilot – but you still need to keep a watchful eye and make periodic adjustments to stay on course.
    Full story
  • Retirement Planning Myths Busted

    The same pitfall plagues retirement planning. For many, it’s easier to believe in myths than to face reality. But it’s not good to stick your head in the sand, so let’s do some more myth busting there as well:
    Full story
  • Your Retirement Plans Can't Ignore Inflation

    You can’t afford to ignore inflation. If you stick your head in the sand on this one, you’re basically sabotaging your own nest egg. Remember hearing about the era when grandma paid 20 cents to see a movie? Think back to your own childhood. How much did an afternoon at the movies cost when you were 10? A lot less than it does now! That’s inflation.
    Full story