Is it worth it to contribute over the 401k match? If it is not, what alternatives should I be looking at?

December 8, 2014

There are three factors I look for in determining where to save: 

 

1) Fees. The higher the fees, the less attractive a match will be over long periods of time. 

 

2) Ability to diversify. You give up investment control in a 401(k) plan. If you do not have a number of quality options to broadly diversify you may find yourself with too much invested in small areas of the market or in options that do not match your investment philosophy. 

 

3) Future income expectations. If you expect your income to rise significantly in the future and do not have a Roth option, you may also benefit from a Roth IRA. 

 

I would also not necessarily assume that the match is worthwhile if the fees and ability to diversify are poor, the match rate is low, or there is a long vesting schedule and you do not plan to stay with that employer. Do not invest in an employer plan for tax reasons alone. It may be the easiest place to save, but simplicity can cost you, and much over time. 

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