Friday, August 14, 2009

Are 401(k) matches coming back?

The short answer is maybe. Some new survey results reported by show that nearly two in three employers who stopped matching workers' 401(k) contributions are planning to restore them soon.

We can use the money. Market losses and last year's reduced contributions dropped the national average 401(k) balance to a five-year-low $26,578, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute. Losing the contributions permanently would be potentially devastating for many savers' retirements, as Shelley K. Schwartz of reported recently.

Watson Wyatt consultant Laura Sejen, whose firm conducted the new survey, suggests that many of the new deals may not be as sweet as the old ones. Employers are still vague about when the cuts will be restored; some reportedly aren't even telling employees of the change just in case the economic recovery doesn't work out. And, as happened with our health plans, employers like the idea of us carrying more of the total load.

So when your employer announces its plans, be ready to push a pencil to recalculate what you need to contribute to hit your retirement goals. CNN's Jeanne Sahadi offers some guidelines to help calculate what you need to make up lost ground.

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