One of the best ways to save money for your future is to invest in a 401(k). As you progress in your career, however, it’s easy to misplace a 401(k) account when you change jobs. Some studies even suggest that there are over 24 million forgotten accounts in the U.S. alone.
Most of the time, it’s relatively easy to locate your old account. To help you out through the process, we’ve outlined a full guide of how to find your 401(k) below. We’ve even provided extra tips to help you save and invest in a comfortable retirement down the road.
Finding Your 401(k)
The sooner you search for your lost 401(k), the easier it will be to find. After all, if you’ve lost track of an account that you had with an employer 20 years ago, it’s possible that that company doesn’t even exist any more. That said, 401(k) funds don’t just disappear. With enough diligence, you’ll be able to retrieve your assets. Just follow the steps below.
Contact Your Previous Employer
The first thing you should do when looking for an old 401(k) is to talk to your old employer. Give their HR department a call, and they should have information that will help you find your account. Just be ready to provide your Social Security number to verify the account is yours.
Check Your 401(k) Statements
Your old 401(k) statements will help you locate your plan administrator if you’re unable to speak with your old employer. From there, you can contact your plan administrator directly, and they’ll point you in the right direction.
Find Your Account’s New Address
There are several databases you can use to locate your 401(k) when the previous two steps don’t work out. To start, you can check out the Department of Labor’s abandoned plan database. Search their website with your old employer’s name and contact information. From there, you should be able to find your plan if it’s on the DOL’s website.
Additionally, FreeERISA and the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits are other databases that could lead you in the right direction. If you had a traditional pension plan, you could also take a look at the U.S. Pension Guaranty Corp. database.
Managing Your Newfound Money
Once you’ve found your old 401(k), it’s important to keep your new funds secure. The last thing you want is to lose track of your funds again the next time you change jobs. Below are some options of what you can do to keep your money safe.
- Use your funds to buy an annuity: Annuities are a great way to ensure you have a consistent income during retirement.
- Combine your 401(k)s into one account: If you have a 401(k) with your current employer, you could always roll over your past funds into your new account.
- Rollover your 401(k) money into an IRA: IRA’s are another helpful retirement savings vehicle that can help you plan for the future. They’re also easier to keep track of since they aren’t attached to an employer.
Saving Tips for a Comfortable Future
One of your top priorities during your career should be to find a job that pays well and to save for the future. The more diligent you are about investing and putting your money away, the more likely you are to live comfortably during retirement.
That said, 15% of Americans don’t have any retirement savings, while 22% have less than $5,000 put away. This suggests that most people don’t currently have healthy savings habits to help them enjoy their golden years later on.
To help you make sure that you’re on the right track, here are some helpful retirement savings tips:
Envision Your Ideal Retirement
Before you start saving and investing, you should know what you’re working towards. Spend some time thinking about what you want out of your retirement. Whether you want to spend your time pursuing your hobbies, going on cruises or travelling the world, this will help you understand how much money you will need.
Establish a Budget
Many people go their whole lives without thinking about the money they spend. But once you’ve created a retirement goal, then you need to analyze how your money’s being currently spent.
Maybe you want to save 5% of your income per month, but you’re spending more than you need to on eating out and going to the movies. If that’s the case, you should outline how much you need to limit your spending on luxuries each month to save your goal number.
Take Advantage of 401(k)s
Often times, employers will offer to match a percentage of your 401(k) contributions. This can result in you essentially receiving free money for every dollar that your employer contributes.
For example, picture that you earn $100,000 per year and your company matches your contributions for up to 5% of your salary. This means if you invested $5,000 per year, you’d automatically receive a $5,000 bonus from your company. Over the years, these funds can build up, helping you achieve a financially abundant retirement.
When you’re planning out your career, it’s important to think about how you’re going to save for retirement. One of the best ways to invest in your future is through 401(k)s. That said, when you switch jobs often, you might misplace your funds.
Using the tips above, you should be reunited with your money, enabling you to save for an ideal future. For more information about saving and investing for retirement, Annuity’s guide below serves as a helpful resource.