Smart401k Blog

  • 7 Twitter Users Every 401(k) Investor Should Follow

    I know what you’re thinking. Why should I spend my time reading tweets about what people ate for dinner or their opinion on current news-making events? It’s a justifiable question to ask, but Twitter, like many things is what you make of it. Following the right people or entities on Twitter can transform the site from a time waster into a powerful news aggregator that can educate and inform of the important news, statistics and information on 401k investing and retirement planning.
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  • Don't Abandon Bonds Just Yet

    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 July 23, 2013 Whenever there’s talk of interest rate increases, conversations about bond values aren't too far behind. With all you've been hearing about bonds in the news recently, now’s a great time to review what bonds are, what role they play in 401(k) investing — and why they should still be a part of your retirement plan.
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  • 3 Ways You Aren't Making the Most of Your 401(k)

    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 July 30, 2013 You kept hearing that your employer’s 401(k) plan is one of the best places to save for retirement. So you enrolled, and you've been contributing. But, for some reason, things aren't going the way you hoped. What could be wrong? There are several reasons your 401(k) account might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Fortunately there are ways to address each of them.
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  • Market Timing with Your Retirement Investments – A Wonderfully Horrible Idea

    There are people out there who seem to have money to play with – money they can afford to lose without destroying their long-term financial goals. You’ve seen some of these people on TV telling you how to react to the daily roller coaster ride that we call the market. Their commentary targets two distinct human emotions: fear and greed. These people are not you. One of the hardest thing to do as a hard-working, middle-class retirement investor can be to ignore the pundits and take emotion out of investing decisions. Yet, it also happens to be one of the most important pledges you must make to yourself when investing for something as important as retirement.
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  • Keep Your Hand Out of the 401(k) Cookie Jar

    If you frequent this blog or speak with any of our investment advisors, you know that at Smart401k, we’re not fans of 401(k) loans. They come with some pretty big negatives, such as the loss of compounded tax-deferred growth on the borrowed amount. Yet many plan participants still dip into the 401(k) loan “cookie jar.” Equally troubling, however, are the bad financial behaviors that can result after a 401(k) loan. The habits you may develop after taking just one loan could be extremely detrimental to your financial future. Here’s how:
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  • Packing For Your Retirement Savings Excursion

    The way you invest in your 401(k) can be likened to the way you’d pack for a trip. The kind of items you decide to pack, and how much of each item you include, can either make for an enjoyable trip or the proverbial vacation from hell. Though it may not get cool enough to don that jacket, warm enough to wear that swimsuit, or sunny enough to sport those sunglasses, if it does, you’ll be glad you packed appropriately. Likewise, you need to make sure your 401(k) account is invested in an appropriate mix of funds so that you’re ready for anything.
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  • 3 Highly Personal Threats to Your Retirement

    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 September 3, 2013. Beware. There are real threats lurking out there, potentially jeopardizing your retirement saving efforts. A market crash? The next Enron? No. I'm talking about things that are a little closer to home. But happily, you can do something about them.
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  • Plan for Holiday Spending Now to Avoid Costly Mistakes Later

    It’s hard to believe October is already upon us, which can only mean one thing – the beginning of what can be one of the most horrifying times of the year. And no, I’m not referring to Halloween (or even Thanksgiving, which can be downright scary for the serious dieters and fitness buffs out there). Cooler temperatures, spooky costumes and colorful landscapes mean the holiday shopping season is right around the corner. Time to start thinking ahead!
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  • 7 Ways to Blow Your Retirement 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 October 1, 2013. If you're within five to 10 years of retirement, you need to start thinking about how to preserve your retirement wealth. I talk a lot about the importance of investing appropriately, especially for those nearing retirement. In simple terms, this generally means reducing your level of investment risk as you approach and then enter retirement. But we also need to think about the spending choices we make. This becomes extremely important in retirement when our sources of income likely will be more limited than during our working years. To make it a little trickier, retiring with a substantial nest egg can lull the unwary into a false sense of financial security. Don't let yourself fall into that trap! Otherwise you may find your nest egg shrinking at an alarming rate. To help avoid blowing through your nest egg too quickly, give some serious advance thought to how you can dodge these retirement money-wasters:
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  • Watch Out for These 401(k) Monsters

    Whether on the big screen or in our living rooms, it seems that monsters typically associated with Halloween – like zombies and vampires – have become a big part of our entertainment these days. While we might like seeing them on television, we sure don’t want them getting close to us in real life, let alone letting them loose on our retirement plans. Let’s take a look at the things that go bump in the night. It’s easier to ward them off if you can recognize them!
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  • How to Handle a 401(k) Fund Change

    Whether you're an old pro or new to the world of employee benefits, the enrollment process can be confusing and intimidating. But it is really important to review everything your employer is offering this year, especially since your health care plan is likely to see some changes as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
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  • The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly Aspects of Target-Date Funds

    401(k) investing can be a stressful and mentally exhausting practice, so it’s natural for 401(k) participants to look for a simple solution. Enter target-date funds. Since their inception in 1994, these funds have become popular 401(k) investing vehicles. But before you jump on the bandwagon, take a step back. Are they a good fit for you and your personal situation? To help you decide, here are a few things you should know about target-date funds.
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  • Top 10 401(k) Questions You May Be Too Embarrassed to Ask (Part I)

    Have you ever felt hesitant to ask your investment advisor (or anyone else, for that matter) a question about investing or retirement planning? When it comes to these complicated topics, there are truly no stupid – or overly simple – questions. Though you might feel embarrassed asking a question if you think you “should” already know the answer, you’re better off getting the information than continuing to live in the dark about something so important and personal. After all, it’s your money … don’t you want to be confident about what you’re doing with it?
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  • What 401(k) Questions Are You Too Embarrassed to Ask?

    We had such a great response to Part I of “Top 10 401(k) Questions You May Be Too Embarrassed to Ask” that we’d like to open up the discussion to include our blog readers! If you’ve ever felt embarrassed to ask a question about your 401(k), retirement planning or investing in general because you didn’t want to seem uninformed, let us know and we might be able to tackle your question in next week’s Part II installment.
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  • Top 10 401(k) Questions You May Be Too Embarrassed to Ask (Part II)

    We recently tackled the first half of the Top 10 401(k) Questions You May Be Too Embarrassed to Ask. We’re back this week to finish up the list. If you haven’t seen your question answered, send us an email at info@smart401k.com and we can address it in a future blog.
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  • Don’t Let Emotions Rule Your Investing

    You’ve probably heard the old adage that money can’t buy happiness. It can, however, bring you feelings of security, especially when it comes to your retirement. But the opposite is also true: Facing an uncertain future in which you might not have the nest egg you need to live the retirement lifestyle you want can cause anxiety and feelings of uncertainty.
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  • How to Make a ‘Fit’ Retirement Plan

    A recent retirement study got me thinking about the parallels between retirement planning and dieting. BlackRock's 2013 Retirement Survey revealed that apathy about retirement planning is tied to a lack of understanding of retirement needs. According to the findings, “Confusion and lack of clarity around retirement needs has led many participants to inaction ... 45 percent say they are not saving [for retirement] because they don’t know how much they will need.”
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  • 5 'No's' for Your 401(k)

    Do you have questions about your 401(k) plan? Most people do. And in many cases, the right answers are as varied as the people asking. However, there are a few questions that are easy to answer. For these, the answer should almost always be "no." And remembering "no" could help you avoid costly mistakes.
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  • 5 'Yes's' for Your 401(k)

    Last week I wrote about 401(k)-related questions to which the answer is almost always "no." To counter that, this week I have a list of questions to which the answer is almost always "yes." These common questions stump many retirement plan participants trying to decide how to make the most of their investments. Remembering "yes" could help you accumulate more money for retirement.
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  • Be a Rule-Breaking Investor

    There may have been a point when retirement planning and investing was almost predictable. However, although there are some tried-and-true investing principles (such as dollar-cost averaging) that have lasted over time, simply following the rules because it’s “what has always been done” means you’re not personalizing your strategy. Remember, what works for your neighbor or brother-in-law won’t necessarily work for you. You don’t want to save for your future based on someone else’s vision, do you?
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