Building retirement savings is so important. Without a solid nest egg, you might really struggle financially once your time in the workforce comes to an end.

And if you're thinking you can just fall back on Social Security, think again. While the program is by no means going away, Social Security is facing some financial challenges that could result in significant benefit cuts. And even outside of benefit cuts, Social Security might only replace about 40% of your pre-retirement wages if you earn a typical paycheck. There's a good chance you'll need more income than that to live on, so it's a good idea to build a nest egg to avoid financial stress.

Now when it comes to building savings, you have options. You could always open an IRA -- anyone with earned income can open and manage one of these accounts independently. And if you're employed by a company that sponsors a 401(k) plan, that's an option, too.

A person at a desk with a laptop and calculator.

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But what if you're not happy with your company's 401(k) plan? It may be that your employer's plan doesn't offer the widest range of fund choices, making it harder for you to invest your money in a manner you're happy or comfortable with. Or maybe your investment choices aren't the issue, but rather, you're not happy with the fees that come with participating in your employer's 401(k).

You are of course not obligated to put money into your company's 401(k) plan if you aren't happy with it. But here's one reason to fund your 401(k) even if you're generally not a fan.

Don't pass up free money

If your employer doesn't offer a 401(k) match and you don't like its plan, then by all means, put your money elsewhere. But if you are eligible for a 401(k) match, then it pays to contribute enough of your salary to claim it in full. This means that if your employer will match 100% of up to $5,000 in contributions this year, and that's a sum you can swing, it pays to put $5,000 into your 401(k) plan, as that will mean getting a free $5,000 from your employer.

Furthermore, when you snag employer matching dollars, you don't just benefit from those principal contributions. You also get to invest the money your company puts it and try to grow it into a larger sum.

So, let's say you snag a $5,000 401(k) match from your company this year and you're 35. If you're not retiring for another 30 years, and you can invest your 401(k) plan so it generates an average annual 8% return, which is a bit below the stock market's average, you'll end up growing that $5,000 into a little over $50,000. That could end up paying your retirement expenses for an entire year, depending on your lifestyle choices.

Get your match and then move on

There's no saying you have to max out a 401(k) plan if you're not happy with the one being offered to you. But if you have access to an employer match, it pays to claim it in full.

From there, you can, and should, look at other places to put your retirement savings. That could mean opening an IRA, funding an HSA, or even looking to a taxable brokerage account, depending on how much flexibility you want with your money.