In America, the dream of taking your pension and riding off into the great sunset of retirement is a dying one. As a result, many Americans are starting to go the independent route and build their own retirement savings through plans such as 401k's. If you are interested in an investment for your future (and let's face it, you should be) then take a few moments and educate yourself with the following facts.


What's your 401k plan? Hopefully, you're not just letting your company put a portion of your salary into a 401k account and just hoping for the best. Sure, you could encounter good luck with that method but it's better to take control of the situation. To start off, set up one or more beneficiaries for your account so that your money goes to anyone you want in case you pass away. Secondly, decide what percentage you want to take out of your income. Some say 10% is the golden number while others say 15%. Ultimately, it all depends on your situation so do some homework and figure out what's best for you.


Not only should you participate in your companies 401k investment plan but be aggressive about it. The key is contributing enough to get all available company matching money. So if your company offers 50% of your contributions up to 5% of your income, then continue at least 5%. That's just the bare minimum. Don't be afraid to contribute more over the years.


Most 401k plans come with default investment choices. These choices tend to be low risk and won't do you much good while you're young and probably not even when you're older. So take more of an active role in your investment by putting long-term money in the stock market.


Think of your 401 investment as a blossoming tomato plant. You need to be patient and let it grow before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. Don't go into a frenzied panic if the market dips. That's natural. Just let your money be and the market will work itself out over time. Additionally, don't borrow money from your 401k if you don't have to. Doing that just slows down the system that is working to make you more capital in the future. Going along with that notion, don't pull out too early. Some people cash out their accounts when they change jobs. Sure, that $20,000 might look nice now but if you let it rest for the next 20 years with an 8% annual growth, you'll be looking at a nice $90,000 in the end.

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