Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to 401(k) Plans

Complete Idiot's Guide to 401(k)

Not sure what to say about this book. After attending some financial planning workshops I was motivated to learn more about the 401(k) retirement savings plan that my employer was offering and about these things in general. It turns out that my 401(k) plan is actually pretty good and I wasn’t nearly getting out of it as much as I could. This was because without this kind of voluntary savings my wife and I would be entirely screwed later in life.

Like most of the other “Idiot’s Guide” books I’ve seen, this one explains it to you like you were a four year old, and that’s pretty good. I had a vague idea of what a 401(k) plan was (i.e., you put money in it each month and you do NOT take it out to buy a new TV) but I really didn’t know anything beyond the basics. This book helped me understand what kind of plans are out there, how much I should invest, what kinds of investments I should make (individual stocks, mutual funds, bonds, etc), how much risk to take, when I should move some of my money over to something else like a Roth IRA, and stuff like that.

As a result of this (and that financial planning workshop) we’ve shifted some stuff around, made some medium-to-long term plans, and now have a better grasp on where we will be come retirement. If you’re one of the people who have access to a 401(k) plan or one of its cousins like a 403(b) or a 457 and don’t feel like you’re an expert on it, you should read this book or one of the dozens like it. If you’re one of those people AND you’re in your early 20s just starting your career you REALLY, REALLY need to learn about these savings plans, because if you start early you can literally have millions in the bank at retirement with relatively little effort. If you don’t you’ll want to throttle your younger self 20 years later when you realize what you’ve done. Or rather, failed to do.

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