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Companies Retore 401K Contributions [AUDIO]

Flickr User Phelan Riesen

They cut back on matching 401(k) contributions during the recession and now many employers are reinstating the practice.

The problem is, many employees are not taking advantage. The most common employer 401(k) match is 50 cents for every one dollar contributed, up to 6% of workers pay. A dollar for dollar match up to 3% also is common.

There are a number of reasons workers are not contributing. “Many employees are ill-informed and don’t realize they can contribute,” said Maury Randall, Chairman of the Finance Department at Rider University. “As a result, they’re not getting the kind of return they could get if they actually did participate.”

“Many people have a variety of financial problems,” said Randall. “They are strapped with eviction and foreclosure along with education and medical bills so they need to withdraw from their 401(k). Some workers don’t think they can afford to contribute up to the full match. They need every penny from their paycheck just to pay the bills.”

“It is so important in this day and age to save for retirement and 401(k) can be a great plan if you have accessibility to that,” said Randall. “If people don’t take advantage, they could have problems down the line especially with the difficulties underlying our social security system.”

“The financial burdens on people who are going to be retiring are going to be greater in many ways than on those who are currently retired. Therefore, to have your own financial resources available in retirement is probably going to be more important in the future than it is today,” he said.

Many companies are trying to help by offering automatic step-ups in which employee 401(k) contribution rates gradually increase until they reach the threshold for the maximum company match.

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