One Clear Sign You Have a Rotten 401(k)—And What to Do About It

One Clear Sign You Have a Rotten 401(k)—And What to Do About It

If your 401(k) is a big deal in your retirement savings strategy, you’re not alone. According to the Investment Company Institute (ICI), more than 52 million workers participate in a 401(k) plan. That adds up to $4.7 trillion in retirement assets, making 401(k)s one of the most common sources of retirement income for U.S. workers. But plans vary from employer to employer, so not every 401(k) plan is what it’s cracked up to be. The last thing you need is to throw your retirement investing budget away in a plan that’s going nowhere. Take a look at some reasons why you might consider stopping your contributions to your employer’s 401(k), then check out our suggestions for how to keep your retirement plan on track without one. No Match? No Deal All 401(k) plans come loaded with certain benefits. First, there’s the tax deferral that helps your retirement money grow faster. Then there are the automatic contributions that make regular retirement investing a breeze. On top of that, traditional 401(k) contributions lower your taxable income, allowing you to invest more without feeling the pinch in your paycheck. But the crowning glory of any 401(k) plan is the employer match. It can take many forms, but the most common is a 50% match on the first 6% of your salary, according to a recent Vanguard report. It’s an instant and guaranteed return on your money. Awesome, right? But without an employer match, the other benefits lose their punch. In fact, if your employer doesn’t offer a match, you’re better off to skip it (as a first step) and start by investing in a Roth IRA...
Draw a Line in the Snow: How to Set and Stick to Gift-Giving Boundaries

Draw a Line in the Snow: How to Set and Stick to Gift-Giving Boundaries

Blessing your children and spouse with gifts is one of the greatest joys of Christmas. But what about everyone else? Between friends, co-workers and extended family, where do you draw the line? You don’t want to leave anyone out, but you also don’t want to stretch your Christmas budget to the limit. Before you hit the packed mall and online stores this year, set some gift-buying boundaries. Figure out how much you have to spend and prioritize accordingly. And absolutely refuse to go into debt for anyone—no matter how cute they would look in that Rudolph sweater. Extended Family You thought you budgeted for every cousin, grandparent, niece and nephew. But then Aunt Mindy shows up with her new boyfriend and his two teenage sons in tow. So you swing by the store and grab some overpriced plastic junk, even though you can’t really afford it and they probably don’t want it. As your extended family changes and grows, it can get exhausting to buy gifts for 30-plus people—especially when surprise guests show up! So why not change the Christmas rules? Talk to your family about limiting individual gifts to smaller kids, and playing a fun game of Dirty Santa with the older kids and adults. (Just bring an extra gift for any unexpected visitors.) This keeps the focus on family time, rather than a carload of unwanted candles and picture frames. Casual Friends Of course you’re going to bless your closest friends with something special. But what about your Facebook friends, workout buddies or the next-door neighbors? Where do they fit in? You can’t be friends with everyone....