MIAMI (CBS4) — As pensions gradually become extinct, retirement planning has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Now, the 401K has reached a milestone.

It was born back in 1981 when Ted Benna allowed his employees to make pre-tax contributions to their retirement accounts.

His firm was one of the first to offer matching employer contributions, the start of the 401K plans.

Today 60-precent of retirement-aged households have them, with retirement-aged investors averaging about $140,000 available.

“Reality is we would never take that money each paycheck and put it into an investment,” said Ted Benna, COO of Malvern Benefits Corporation.

But Benna says 401Ks were never intended to be an investors sole retirement plan because 401K’s do have flaws.

So how can you make the most of them? You need to start early.

“The biggest mistake that people make when they have a 401K available is to not get in the game at all,” added Benna.

Take advantage of your employers matching contributions.

Many large companies match the first six percent.

Next, contribute as much as possible.

You can save a maximum of $16,500 each year.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of the catch-up provision to save an extra $5.500 a year.

Choose a mix of stocks and bonds, and stick with it regardless of market fluctuation.

“The target maturity funds usually have numbers like 2010, 2020, 2030, and the idea is you put your money solely into one of those funds. It’s automatically allocated, you don’t have to do picking and choosing,” Benna explained.

Employers are only required to send out 401K statements once a year.

But many offer online or more frequent updates so check with your employer for more information.


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