Free Money. That IS Actually Free. And Three No-Brainers.

I got a very exciting email this week, saying that my company is bringing back their 401(k) match.  I’m not sure how long they’ve been without it because I’ve only been with the company for six months, which is sometimes the approximate probationary period before these kind of benefits kick in anyway.

No-Brainer #1:  Although I had instant flashes of all the trouble I’ve been having with transferring my old 401(k)s lately, now I know the rollover process (at 26, I’m pretty sure a rollover will be necessary at some point) and I immediately signed up.

I didn’t calculate percentages and what that would mean for my paycheck and figure out a new budget and then sign up.  I just signed up.  For the max that they will match (50% of my 6%).  I’m going to make the little cut work for my monthly budget for the sake of free money.

Because, this time, it legitimately is free money.  You could invest $100 on your own OR you could throw in $100, have your company add $50 and earn (theoretically, over the long run) greater returns.  Like I said, a no-brainer.

No-Brainer #2:  Picking funds.  This used to be a source of stress for me, but I’m a devout follower of Suze Orman, so I pulled her Young, Fabulous & Broke off my bookshelf (a loaner from my college friend that I never gave back! Sorry, Matt!), opened to her 401(k) section and diversified my allocations based on her recommendations.

No-Brainer #3:  When I signed up, I was given the option to automatically increase my contribution annually.  But my company only matches up to 6%, so next year if I put in 7%, I still only get 3% from them.  Yes, it’s smart to automatically increase under the assumption that my salary will also increase with time, but when there’s no more free money on the table, I will take my increase and max out my shiny new Roth IRA, thank you very much.

I hope other companies have added or will be adding their matching programs back because socking away money for retirement really is a no-brainer and even as twentysomethings, it’s something that’s better done today than put off for tomorrow.

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