Welcome to the 'How Often Do You' series! This series will serve as a reminder for you to do some essential personal finance tasks more regularly and will force you to get a grip on your finances. Just because they are ugly doesn't mean you can avoid them. So let's have an honest look at our finances together and find out how often you...
Add to your 401k.
Adding money to your 401k is something that you should do as often as you can. A 401k is part of a solid financial future.
If you have an employer who will match part or all of your contribution, then you should really be adding as much as humanly possible. Thing about it, if they are matching your $1,000 investment, they are literally GIVING you $1,000! Crazy right? What's crazy is passing on opportunities like this. I know I know, we don't all have this option (me included), but you should still try and put something in your 401k.
Even if you don't have a match situation going on, remember that when you contribute to your 401k as a payroll deduction, the contribution comes out before taxes are withheld. So if you've got a $3,000 check and you contribute $500 to your 401k, the full $500 will go in and you will only be taxed on $2500 in income. Not bad!
So how often do you add to your 401k? If you come across some extra money, or get a raise, does adding to your 401k come to mind? If not, take a look at your finances and see if you can work in a contribution. You'll be glad you did when it's time to cash that baby out.
Note: some (non-employer) 401k plans let you contribute by check. Whenever you get a bonus or extra money, cut your 401k a nice check!
Note #2: all 401k plans are different. Speak to a financial advisor if you have questions about yours.