Key Details About 401(K) Contribution: Pros and Cons

Key Details About 401(K) Contribution: Pros and Cons

By Yash

It can be hard to think about how to start saving and investing for retirement. But when you are firmly into middle age, you will be thankful that you started to do that so early in your professional career. The most usual way of saving for your future retirement is by using a 401(K) contribution sponsored by your employer. According to the statistics, more than fifty million workers in the United States are taking part in any of these plans. So, the number of participants involved in 401(K) contributions increases. But there is still a lot of confusion regarding how much employees should shell out for their plans from each of their paychecks. This article will tell you everything about the 401(K) contributions you should make. We will also tell you about the various 401k pros and cons.

Todd Kunsman, Founder of Invested Wallet, said, "The answer to how much someone contributes is always, as much as you can or max it out! But knowing everyone's income level and finances are different, I think the best answer should be to start with enough to get the company match. For example, some companies may offer a 100 percent match of the first 6 percent contributed or 100 percent of the first 3 percent contributed. Whatever that number is, make sure that is what you contribute or risk leaving money on the table! I did not understand this early in my career and was not getting the full match. I wanted more money in my pocket instead of towards my 401(k), but in doing so, I left thousands of dollars behind."


What Should be the Amount of 401(K) Contribution?


As a general rule, many experts in the financial sector say that you should try to save between one-tenth to one-fifth of your gross salary for your future retirement. This could be in terms of a 401(K) contribution or in any other type of retirement account. But it does not matter whether you prefer to save your money. You should attempt to save as much as possible for retirement while still living a comfortable life. It is also vital to state that this is the usual rule. The exact amount you should try to save hinges on your situation. For instance, you may be in your middle years and have no retirement savings. Then you should start saving one-fifth of your gross salary. You may be thirty years old and have more than a hundred thousand dollars in retirement savings. Then you can decrease your 401(K) contributions by a little to pay off any loans or mortgages. It is not easy to develop the same plan that is suitable for everyone.

This is because all the people are in different situations with their finances. You may like to save this much of your salary every year, even though it feels like a lot. But you do not have to try to do this all at once. You can attempt to spread the contributions throughout the year. You can also attempt to contribute less or more in some years. Also, you do not have to save that cash using your 401(K) contributions. You can consider the other factors that will affect your contributions.

Robert Johnson, Ph.d., CFA, CAIA, and Professor of Finance at Creighton University, said, "Perhaps the worst financial mistake anyone can make is turning down free money. If one doesn't contribute enough in a 401(k) plan that has a company match to earn that match, one is basically turning down free money. Contributing the max to your 401(k) also reduces your tax bill. Investors should do whatever it takes to participate in your company's 401(k) plan to the level to get your full employer match. Company matching requirements vary considerably by company. For instance, some firms will match contributions up to a certain maximum. On the other hand, some plans require the employee to invest a certain minimum percentage of salary before the firm contributes any employer match."


Create an Emergency Fund


You would like to save as much as you can for your retirement. But it is not necessary that you should put all of your savings towards that. You should also keep enough reserves of cash to cover the usual expenses such as rent and food. It is also a great idea to have an emergency fund. Any such emergency fund will safeguard you from any unpredictable expenses or complicated financial situations. It may be that you have lost your job and do not have any regular salary for some time. A family member may get sick, and you may have to pay some medical bills. If you have a great emergency fund, it can help you to navigate through the bad times. You should not withdraw any money from your retirement accounts unless it is absolutely needed. It is also vital to remember that such an emergency fund will ease your mind by giving you a sense of security. It is always good to know that you have a backup plan if anything goes wrong.

There is no right answer for the amount of money you should have in your emergency fund. It usually depends on the overall situation. But you should have enough money to cover a few months of your expenses. It may sound a lot if you have no emergency funds at present. But you can create your fund over time by adding on a little periodically.

Kyle Kroeger, Founder of Financial Wolves, said, "I've been contributing the max amount to 401(k) since my second year of college. I think anyone should strive to contribute to the max contribution limit as soon as possible out of college, even if it requires you to find a job on the side. Why? Because as a young professional, your income is only expected to rise. If you can add the max contribution to your budgeting right from the start, your income will rise too. A lot of people will increase their contributions when they get a raise. That just means that your take-home pay will stay the same. That makes it much harder psychologically to continue to increase your contributions. Most people don't even end up doing it. Bite the bullet early and max out from the get-go!"


401K Pros and Cons


There are many advantages of 401(K) contributions for employers. The plans show that if an employer shows their willingness to invest in the workforce, it can help in employee retention and future recruitment. The 401(K) contribution is the most recognized saving plan for retirement. Most of the job seekers go towards those firms that give it. The employees will probably stay at a firm that gives such an option. This is more so if the firm has a vesting schedule. The deductions related to taxation are another major benefit for employers. This is because firms that give such plans for their employees can write off their matching contributions each year. The employees get a government-approved mechanism to save for retirement. They can also avail of loans in lieu of their savings in the account.

So, there are a lot of advantages that are quite well-documented. But there are also some cons for the employers and employees. These include the amount of money and time associated with sponsoring the plan. These plans can be a little tough to set up and then administer. There are also some costs that have to be kept for administration, investments, and record-keeping. Also, firms usually need to pay some experts to handle the initial setup of the program. One of the other cons is strict regulation. Also, other investment vehicles in the financial markets may give you higher returns.




It is advisable to keep aside a percentage of your gross salary for a retirement account. But that is the usual rule. You should try to save as much as you can for your retirement. You should also try to ensure that you have enough in your savings account to cover emergencies and regular expenses. The vital thing is to keep contributing regularly. This is even though you cannot save a lot. It is not easy to think about your future over the things that you want right now. But you will be satisfied with the outcome in the future if you keep up with regular 401(K) contributions.