Continue Contributing to your 401K?

February 7, 2009

Simply put the answer is yes – absolutely. Here are the reasons why. Let’s assume you took a substantial hit to your 401K plan when the stock market plummeted approximately 40%.

The amount of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other holdings that your 401K provider continues to purchase at the currently lower prices will eventually increase in price once the stock market rebounds. If you do not contribute, you will be losing out on the potential increase your overall portfolio will obtain.

The basic rule of investing is to buy low and sell high. Now is therefore a great time to make substantial contributions to your 401K, especially if you are a young individual who has just entered the business world or if you are five to ten years from retirement. It’s a good idea to check with your 401K plan provider or employer to determine what the maximum contribution is and, if at all possible, whether you can meet that amount annually.

If you cannot afford to maximize your contributions, you can determine what percentage you can afford per paycheck so that at least you are contributing something to the plan. For example, let’s assume you can only contribute 5%. Take time to set a household budget and then determine how much you can afford to contribute to your 401K. Perhaps you can start with 5% and increase it by 1% each year, until you reach the maximum allowed. Remember also that the contributions to 401K’s are pre-tax so that the bottom line impact to your take home check will be much less.

Having a 401K plan is a critical factor to building a nest egg for retirement. Whether you stop contributing or not is up to you, but I recommended that you contribute something every paycheck, especially right now since the market has dropped substantially. Remember the basic rule of investing – buy low and sell high – and take advantage of the significant drop in the stock market.

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One Response to “Continue Contributing to your 401K?”

  1. [...] With the current economic crisis on everyone’s mind, you may be wondering if you should withdraw money from your 401K. My recommendation is that you do not. Rather your contributions should continue based on the “buy low-sell high” theory. See my article on Continuing Contributions to a 401K. [...]

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