Smart401k Blog

  • Why it's Good to "Catch Up" With Your 401(k)

    If you’ve done any research on saving and planning for retirement, chances are you’ve come across a study or two that details the retirement savings shortcomings of Americans, especially when it comes to baby boomers. It’s probably no surprise to you, then, that more and more people nearing retirement are starting to realize their nest egg might not allow them to live the retirement lifestyle they once envisioned – and that it’s time to face the fact that they no longer have the luxury of decades to accumulate the savings they need.
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  • 4 Things to Consider Before Changing Investments

    The stock market has taken us for an emotional ride during the past couple of months, and with the uncertainty in Ukraine rattling investors, it doesn’t look like the feeling will end anytime soon. Whether it’s geopolitics or concerns over Federal Reserve policy, I can understand why some retirement investors are left feeling uncertain, or even a little afraid. After all, our retirement nest eggs are tremendously important to each of us. Nevertheless, succumbing to that fear and uncertainty is neither necessary nor helpful. Those emotions bring out our deeply held fight-or-flight instincts. But here’s the deal: You don’t need to fight and you don’t need to flee. One of the best things retirement investors can do when the market gets rough is stay the course and resist the urge to make emotionally charged investing decisions.
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  • How to Maintain Your Nest Egg in Retirement

    It would be easy to assume that, once you enter retirement, your work as a retirement investor is done. But the truth is you can never really stop working to maintain your nest egg. The easiest way to manage your post-retirement funds is to create a plan ahead of time that addresses the potential pitfalls known to affect retirees. After all, it’s harder to fix errors once you’re retired – mainly because you’re no longer making consistent contributions and can’t make as many financial adjustments to compensate for mistakes.
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  • 3 Important Estate Planning Questions

    Estate planning isn’t exactly my idea of fun, but it’s absolutely necessary. Just like you’re planning for retirement, you need to plan for the inevitable. Some of this stuff might require the use of a lawyer or financial planner for a one-time estate planning session, but you could also find one of the many websites where you can purchase some legal documents and/or consult with an attorney at a lower rate.
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  • Are You Your 401(k)'s Worst Enemy?

    Over the last few years it seems like our 401(k)s have developed a long list of “enemies” trying to steal from it. Stories detail how these entities are trying to take every penny of your 401(k) nest egg. But what all these tales seem to gloss over is that the biggest enemy to your 401(k) is much closer to home – it’s you. Yes, you, the everyday American retirement saver. The truth is, your behaviors could be causing much greater damage to your 401(k) plan than Godzilla ever could.
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  • Tell a Graduate to Start Saving Now

    If you know a new graduate, do them a favor: Steal five minutes of their time to disclose some real wisdom – in other words, the commencement speech they really need to hear. Be sure to touch on three big points:
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  • 5 401(k) Mistakes to Avoid

    Setting up retirement plan contributions and choosing investments is the first step toward saving for your future. There are, however, mistakes that can derail the best retirement aspirations if investors are not careful. Here are five retirement investing traps to avoid:
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  • What to Do With 'Orphaned' 401(k)s

    Leaving an employer is complicated enough, so managing a 401(k) account is likely the last thing on many people’s minds as they make an exit. Consider this: It’s common to move from one employer to the next every two or three years, particularly for people who are newer to the workforce. Someone in their mid-30s could have worked for four or five employers and left behind a 401(k) account each time they moved.
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  • 3 Ways to Make Your Retirement Strategy More Efficient

    Your retirement accounts should be working at maximum capacity to move you toward retirement – firing on all cylinders, so to speak. However, many Americans overlook the need to take a holistic approach and make sure all accounts are working together effectively. Failure to create a holistic, coordinated strategy that includes each retirement account could cause various problems.
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  • The Cost of Being Average With Your 401(k) (Infographic)

    No one wants to be average, especially when it comes to the kind of retirement they’ll be able to afford. The infographic below compares the size of an average 401(k) investor’s nest egg with that of one who is taking retirement planning to the next level. Being a better-than-average planner could be the difference between having enough money to fund the kind of retirement you want or falling short of your retirement goals.
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  • How to Factor Medical Expenses Into Your Retirement Plan

    The word "retirement" has pleasant connotations. It’s a life phase rooted in the American psyche. Workers look forward to it for years. After 40 or more years of the daily grind of work-life, in retirement we get to relax and do what we want – be it travel, hobbies or whatever else may move us. ​ Very few Americans imagine steep medical bills and financial stress when they hear the word – with the possible exception of those who are nearing this life stage and are worried about paying for medical expenses. Yet, whether you realize it or not, medical care can consume a large portion of your retirement budget.
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  • 7 Steps to Reach Your Retirement Goals

    People who know what they’re doing won’t tell you retirement planning is easy. It takes time, research, and discipline. Rather than dwelling on the outlay, I suggest you focus on the reward. Approach retirement planning with the same joy you have for vacation planning, because retirement could be the longest, most fun vacation of your life.
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  • 3 Harmful Mistakes You Can Make When Saving for Retirement

    A majority of 401(k) plan participants say their 401(k) plan is their sole or largest source of retirement savings. But as you can see, it’s not enough just to invest your money in these plans. To better take advantage of the opportunities they offer, do your best to avoid these common retirement planning mistakes. Not only will you avoid sabotaging your primary retirement savings vehicle, but with a little forethought and planning, you could get even closer to the retirement of your dreams.
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  • 3 Stages of Saving and Spending in Retirement

    The average retiree can expect three phases of retirement: early retirement – a period of travel, hobbies and adventure; middle retirement – a stage marked by socializing, activity and relaxation; and later retirement – a time of winding down, when most of your days are spent at home.
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  • 4 Questions to Help You Avoid Social Security Mistakes

    Shame on you. I know what’s going on. You’ve been trashing your Social Security statement without even a glance or second thought. Or maybe you haven’t begun to consider Social Security’s role in your future retirement. After all, as far as you know, Social Security won’t be around when you retire – that’s what you keep hearing on the news, anyway. So, why bother?
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  • 3 Investing Expenses Worth the Splurge

    Most people know that saving for retirement isn’t necessarily free – there are expenses associated with investing and planning for your financial future. But unlike the fees charged by Washboard (R.I.P.), or needless trade fees and broker commissions that can eat into your returns, some of those costs are actually worth it in the long run.
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  • What Investors Should Do in a Market Correction

    As investors, we love seeing the markets rally and our account balances increase in value. But when the markets fall, it can really test our mettle. Despite the uncertainty you may feel when a volatile market takes you on a roller-coaster ride, one thing is clear: As investors, we should prepare for the bumpier experience ahead.
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  • What to Do With 'Orphaned' 401(k)s

    Do you have custody of your nest egg? A 2013 survey by ING Direct USA showed that half of American adults who participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), have left an account at a previous employer.
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  • New Credit Card Legislation

    There have been some major changes to the rules governing credit cards, with the last round taking effect on August 23rd. These rules were implemented to protect the consumer and it is important that you know how it could affect you. This is an overview of the major changes that have taken place.
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  • Give Your Kids an Edge* - Part II

    I’ve already discussed my plan for teaching my son about money through age 10. This post contains my thoughts about how to approach the most challenging group of children – teenagers.
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