IRA - 401(k) Advice

Between automatic deductions and professional management, it’s easy to leave your 401(k) on autopilot — maybe too easy. In the last few years, many investors have watched 401(k) assets decline sharply when they might have been able to do something about it.

Guidelines to help safeguard your IRA - 401(k) assets

Know what you own. In other words, make sure that your asset allocation suits your unique situation and retirement goals. For example, if you’re getting ready to retire in the next few years, you may want to reduce risk and focus on steady gains.

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Diversify: even after accounting scandals wiped out the 401(k) plans of thousands of Enron employees, one-third of the nation’s 401(k) participants aged 60 and older still had the majority of their funds in company stock. Leaving assets too heavily weighted in any one investment can expose your portfolio to serious risk.

Check for IRA - 401(k) paycheck errors

Each month, make sure paycheck deductions actually make it to your 401(k) and are allocated correctly. The Department of Labor recently found that some companies have abused employee contributions by either using the money or delaying deposits into employees’ accounts.

Take advantage of higher contribution limits

In 2003, workers aged 50 and older may contribute up to $14,000 a year of pre-tax income to their 401(k) plans.]

Pre-tax contributions and tax-deferred growth potential make 401(k) investing one of the easiest ways to save for retirement. By adhering to a few basic guidelines, you can help protect your 401(k) savings in good times and bad.

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