Now that tax reform is well underway, businesses and individuals alike are attempting to navigate the various changes that have ensued. And while the new code is designed to offer tax breaks to both, more than one-third of Americans are convinced they won't end up benefiting from the updated rules.
But new data from consulting firm Willis Towers Watson tells us that the majority of large and midsize companies are planning to change their benefits programs, or have already done so, to further serve their employees. While 34% say they'll offer more support for personal financial planning going forward, 26% say they'll look into increasing 401(k) matching contributions to help workers grow their nest eggs.
As an employee, you stand to benefit tremendously from both offerings, so pay attention to those incoming work memos: They just might contain some good news.
Do you need help planning your future?
We're not all confident or educated investors by nature, and while saving in a 401(k) is a good step toward securing your financial future, the fact of the matter is that if you don't know what you're doing, you risk losing money to higher-than-necessary fees and missed growth opportunities. It's no wonder, then, that 93% of millennials say they'd use a financial wellness program if their employers were to provide one.
If your company uses its tax savings to start offering a financial wellness program with 401(k) guidance, you might benefit big time. Imagine, for example, that thanks to that outside help, you save yourself 1% in investment fees each year. That may not seem like a lot when you're first starting out, and your account balance is hovering around, say, the $10,000 mark. But as that balance grows over time, that 1% can make a huge difference. Furthermore, it's estimated that 92% of Americans have no clue as to how much they're paying in 401(k) fees, so having some direction in that area can help you grow your savings more efficiently.
At the same time, it's critical that your retirement plan investments allow for steady growth without exposing you to needless risk. If you have no idea how to invest your 401(k), then having access to a professional to help you allocate your assets could be invaluable.
How do you feel about (more) free money?
It's estimated that 92% of companies that sponsor a 401(k) also match employee contributions to some degree. And that's just free money waiting to be had, provided you contribute enough of your own paycheck to take advantage. But if your company decides to increase that matching percentage as a means of sharing the wealth the new tax laws have created, you have a real opportunity to accumulate even more money for your golden years.
Imagine you start to contribute 3% of your $60,000 salary ($1,800) this year, and that your company matches at that same percentage for another $1,800. Let's also assume that your salary increases by 3% each year, and that your investments deliver an average annual 7% return (which is very doable with a stock-heavy portfolio). If you keep up that contribution rate, and your employer holds steady with that 3% match, you'll be looking at a balance of $377,000 come age 65. But if your employer match increases to 4%, thereby prompting you to save 4% of your salary as well, then all other things being equal, you'll end up with $503,000 at age 65 instead. And that $126,000 difference could go a long way during your golden years.
While many Americans are naturally pessimistic about tax reform, the fact of the matter is that you just might benefit from it in ways you never expected. So keep an eye out for some new and improved workplace benefits, whether it's the ones just mentioned or other perks, like an increased subsidy to your health insurance plan. You may just come away wealthier, whether immediately or in the long run, as a result.
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