Local News

Some companies rethinking 401(k) matches

Posted June 29, 2009 6:25 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2011 9:50 a.m. EDT

— A growing trend could make your 401(k) retirement account shrink.

A survey by Grant Thornton LLP’s found that 29 percent of U.S. companies have modified, or plan to modify, the matching contribution in their 401(k) plans this year; two-thirds of those respondents report that they will eliminate the match entirely.

It is something WRAL's GOLO online community has taken note of.

"My workplace stopped 401(k) matching too. That's the injury. The insult is the market loss we've all seen," a person wrote.

Another person added sarcastically, "I am going to invest in cardboard. Retirement age people are going to be living in boxes soon."

To help ward off retirement money problems, "You should have a personal portfolio equal in size to what you have in a retirement account,” financial planner Troy Smith said.

Smith says if an employer stops matching 401(k) contributions people should look at their overall portfolio before deciding what to do next.

"The first thing is to take a look at what you're already doing outside of the retirement account. So if you've already got sufficient liquidity in investment account, some savings, and emergency funds, plus additional investments equal to what you've got in your retirement account, then keep contributing to your 401(k),” Smith said.

Smith says people should stop contributing if they don't have at least about three months of living expenses available in an emergency account.

"If the employer is taking away the match and you have no other lifeline outside the 401(k), discontinue the 401(k) until you can build up the emergency fund,” Smith said.

Smith also said having three months worth of emergency funds in a savings or money market account is crucial for any successful financial plan.