It’s late December, a time when most of us start making resolutions for the new year.  While you might be vowing to eat less or get to the gym more, it’s also important to get your finances in tip-top shape. At Schwab Retirement Plan Services, we believe a great place to start is with your 401(k). Here are some ideas to help get 2013 started on the right foot:

  • Contribute enough to get the full employer match – A vast majority of the     401(k)s we administer, 73%, offer a matching contribution.  If your plan does, make sure you contribute at least enough to get the full match.  Not doing so means you are leaving money on the table.
  • Sign up for advice – Most 401(k) plans offer some type of professional advice, so be sure to take advantage of it. Data for plans we serve shows that people who take 401(k) investment advice save more, are better diversified and are better equipped to handle inevitable fluctuations in the market.
  • Raise your contribution level – Some plans have an automatic contribution increase built in, so as your career (and hopefully, your salary) grows, you’re stashing away a larger percentage of your earnings for retirement. If your plan doesn’t do this automatically for you, make a conscious effort to increase your contribution percentage in 2013.
  • Look for low-cost options – Review your investments and check for those with lower operating expenses. For example, index mutual funds may be an effective and less expensive alternative to actively managed funds in your plan. Also make it a point to look over your 401(k) fee disclosure statement and educate yourself on your plan’s fees. Cost matters.
  • Evaluate your beneficiaries – If your family situation has changed, your 401(k) account records may be outdated.  The start of a new year is a great time to review your list of beneficiaries and update it as necessary.
  • Address old 401(k)s – If you’re like many Americans, you’re wondering what to do with an old 401(k) from a previous job.  Resolve to explore your options, which include rolling it into an IRA, moving it to your new plan or leaving it alone.  If you choose the latter, be sure your investment options reflect your current preferences.
  • Don’t touch that cash! – With so many presents to buy, the holidays often leave us a little strapped for cash.  But even when times are tough, resist the urge to dip into your 401(k).  A 401(k) loan or withdrawal can significantly derail your long-term savings plan (and even trigger taxes and penalties). Remember, this money is for your retirement.

Do you have financial resolutions of your own?  Let us know in the comments section.

 

Investors should carefully consider information contained in the prospectus, including investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. You can request a prospectus by calling Schwab at 800-435-4000. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Investment return and principal value will fluctuate with changes in market conditions such that shares may be worth more or less than original cost when redeemed. Lower expenses do not necessarily translate into better performance.

The information provided is general in nature and is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal, or investment planning advice. Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Schwab recommends that you consult with a qualified tax advisor, CPA, attorney, or financial planner.

The Charles Schwab Corporation provides services to retirement and other benefit plans and participants through separate but affiliated companies and subsidiaries: Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc; Schwab Retirement Plan Services Company; and Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (collectively, “Schwab”). Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc. and Schwab Retirement Plan Services Company provide recordkeeping and related services with respect to retirement plans. Brokerage products and services are offered by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (Member SIPC).

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Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

The Charles Schwab Corporation provides a full range of securities, brokerage, banking, money management, and financial advisory services through its operating subsidiaries. Its broker-dealer subsidiary, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc (“Schwab”), Member SIPC, offers investment services and products, including Schwab brokerage accounts. Its banking subsidiary, Charles Schwab Bank (member FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender), provides deposit and lending services and products. Schwab Advisor Services™ serves independent investment advisors and includes the custody, trading, and support services of Schwab. Independent investment advisors are not owned, affiliated with, or supervised by Schwab. Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc. and Schwab Retirement Plan Services Company provide recordkeeping and related services with respect to retirement plans. Brokerage Products: Not FDIC Insured • No Bank Guarantee • May Lose Value

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