It’s quite easy to become a 401(k) millionaire if you get started early enough. It’s also important to avoid making silly mistakes. Fewer people are able to retire at 65 than at any time in recent history. 30.8% of those over the age of 65 are working to make ends meet. With a 401(k) and some diligence, you can avoid becoming one those forced to work in your senior years.
Become a 401(k) millionaire by following a few simple rules:
- Get the full company match. Every company is different. Some match 50% of the first 4% of your income contributed to the 401(k) plan. Others might match dollar for dollar on the first 5%. Ensure that you’re at least getting the full match amount. It’s free money, so ensure that you get it.
- Maintain your job. It can take a few years to be fully vested. So the money that your company contributed to your 401(k) in the last couple of years probably won’t be yours if you leave for another company. Of course, if a new job provides a greater income, a lower cost of living, or a more generous 401(k) program, it’s worth considering.
- Pull out your calculator and do the math before you take a position with another company. Take everything into account.
- Time is the deciding factor. There’s a limit to how much you can invest in a 401(k) each month. And unless you have a high income, it’s unlikely you can reach the contribution limit of $18,000 or $24,000 if you’re over age 50.
- That means that getting started early is important. Becoming a 401(k) millionaire is a piece of cake if you start at age 25. It’s far more challenging if you start at age 45.
- Compare: Two employees work for the same company and have the same salary. We’ll assume that both make $50,000 per year and receive a 2% raise each year. Their employer matches 50% up to 6% of salary. The annual return is a theoretical 8%. Both contribute 10% of their income and retire at age 65. One employee is 25 years old. The other is 45.
- The 25-year old employee will retire with $2,204,825. The employee contributed a total of $308,050 and the employer contributed $92,415.
- The 45-year old employee will retire with $358,688. The employee contributed $123,917. The employer contributed $37,175.
- Time can make all the difference in the world!
- Leave your 401(k) account alone. Avoid taking any money out of your account. It can be tempting to pull out money to purchase a home or to pay for a nice vacation. It is possible to borrow money from your 401(k) and pay it back, but will you? Allow the money to stay in your account and grow.
- Contribute as much as you can. The more you save, the more you’ll have at retirement. It can be challenging to save at first. However, get in the habit. Even if it’s just a few percent of your income. When you get a raise, apply as much as you can to your 401(k). You’ve lived without that raise, you can continue to do so.
The biggest mistake is waiting to get started. When you’re first starting out, your income might not seem sufficient to save significantly. But it’s important to begin as soon as possible. Every dollar matters. Start saving for your retirement as soon as possible. Time and a small monthly contribution are all that’s necessary to become a 401(k) millionaire.