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Social Security's not working. Pensions are practically extinct. Now 401(k)s are in jeopardy -- and it's up to us to save our retirement. Our special report shows you how.
As we look back on 2008, very few of us are likely to be happy with the performance of our 401(k) investments. Notwithstanding the 36% market drop, though, are you happy with your 401(k) plan?
That might seem like a tough question. 401(k)s are one of the major benefits that companies provide to employees, and they are now the standard means for employees to build retirement savings. Best of all, a 401(k) gives you the autonomy to choose the percentage of funds you allocate to the plan and the investments (mostly mutual funds) that make sense for your time horizon and risk tolerance.
But because the 401(k) is provided through a company, by nature, the company has some control over the 401(k) options, as well as any additional benefits such as an employee match.
And that means companies can revoke things like an employee match when times get tough. Recently, that's happened at General Motors (NYSE: GM ) , Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) , and Dollar Thrifty Automotive (NYSE: DTG ) , to name a few examples. (However, Dollar Thrifty announced this week that it was reinstating the match for 2009.) That's scary, but it's nothing new: During our last recession, El Paso (NYSE: EP ) and Textron (NYSE: TXT ) also eliminated their employee match, but later reinstated the match when market conditions improved.
While eliminating an employee match might seem troubling, many more people fall victim to other side effects of a company’s poor 401(k) plan -- high fees, poor plan options, and an overall lack of transparency may be literally stealing your retirement dollars!
Some of those blunders are self-inflicted, while some may be no fault of yours. The truth is, there are many poor 401(k) options out there, and a basic knowledge about how the plans work, how fees are structured, and how the various investment choices stack up can make a remarkable difference for your nest egg.
With that in mind, we want to poll Fools about their satisfaction with their 401(k) plan (again, we're assuming no one is happy with the 12-month performance of the plan!).