You'll need savings to manage your living costs in retirement. Sure, you could fall back on Social Security to some degree, but those benefits should not be your only source of retirement income.

The benefits you collect from Social Security will generally replace about 40% of your former paycheck (assuming benefits aren't cut in the future) -- and that assumes you're an average earner. But most seniors need about twice that amount of income to cover their expenses and have enough money left over to keep busy. That's where your savings come in.

If you have access to a 401(k) plan through your job, you may be inclined to sign up for it and save for retirement that way. But that's not necessarily your best choice. And if your company's 401(k) plan is missing one key feature, it could pay to save elsewhere.

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When there's no matching incentive

Many companies that sponsor 401(k) plans also match worker contributions to varying degrees. But if your company doesn't offer any type of match, then you may not want to save in its retirement plan. In that situation, you may be better off with an IRA.

Why so? For one thing, you might face lower administrative fees with an IRA than with a 401(k) plan. And the lower your fees are, the less money you lose in the course of your savings window.

Also, IRAs tend to offer a wider range of investment choices than 401(k) plans. You'll commonly be allowed to invest in individual stocks when you keep your savings in an IRA, but 401(k) plans generally don't allow you to buy stocks individually. Instead, you get different funds to invest in, from mutual funds to index funds to target-date funds.

That's problematic for two reasons. First, if you don't get the option to assemble your own mix of stocks, you might end up investing in a manner you're not comfortable with. You may not want to put your money into a mutual fund, for example, because you'd rather be the one making investment decisions. And you may not want to stick to index funds because they won't make it possible to beat the market.

Furthermore, being limited to different funds in a 401(k) plan might also mean incurring higher investment fees (which should not be confused with the administrative fees associated with your plan). Granted, index funds are generally a nice low-fee option you can fall back on, but you could end up with hefty fees if you load up on mutual or target-date funds.

You're not forced to save in your company's plan

Your employer might offer a 401(k) plan as a benefit to its employees. But that does not, by any means, compel you to sign up. And if there's no matching incentive to benefit from, you may be better off keeping your retirement savings in an IRA, where you'll commonly be looking at lower fees and a wider range of investment choices.