MONEY: Error Employees Make

The Most Common Error Employees Make

For Immediate Release
August 10, 2012

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Unfortunately, only 9% of the nation’s 60 million workers who are eligible to participate in 401(k) plans contribute the maximum, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The Plan Sponsor Council of America says only 5% of employees do so. And a recent survey by CouponCabin found that 73% of Americans aged 18–34 — the group whose long-time horizon offers them the best chance of creating wealth by retirement — don’t invest for retirement at all.

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I’m not a “financial advisor”. Nor do I play one on TV. 

Remember the sources of my education: I’m just a fat old white guy injineer with: Law “degree” from watching Judge Judy; Medical “degree” from watching Doctor Phil; Building “degree” from watching “Holmes on Homes”; Investing “degree” from reading about Bernie Made-off; and creating caring human relationships from studying the movie roles of Gunny Ronald Lee Ermey!

And, while generally and usually agree with Ric, and by way of disclosure I am a Customer of Ric’s, I think I’d like to quibble with him a little.

Not that folks should be worried about the future and saving everything they can. He and Dave Ramsey together are good pundits. But I disagree with both around the edges.

But back to Ric and 401Ks.

There are at least three specific incidents where the 401K advice hits a boundary.

(1) Some 401Ks REQUIRE you to rollover into the company’s 401K. There is the infamous case of the guy who rolled a million dollar PGE IRA into Enron and is now living on welfare or social security.

(2) Some 401Ks are really “house organs”. The CFO makes a sweetheart deal and the employees get screwed. High fees, limited choices, and you name it.

(3) Some 401Ks are not worth chasing to get the limited match.

Then there are some TINFOILHAT considerations:

(A) The Gooferment desperate for money needs 13T$. The IRA / 401K holding is 14T$. All the politicians and bureaucrats have to do is to twist the arms of ~2500 “custodians” and give the “owner” an “enhanced social security benefit” and all their portables are solved. For YOUR OWN GOOD of course. (Yeah, it can’t happen here — the FDR gold grab, GM bailout, … … the Japanese Internment, Trail of Tears, … … yeah trust your Gooferment.

(B) The 401K is in dollar denominated assets.What if the Fed does QE3+4+5 … and we get a Carter stagflation? Remember 21% Treasury Bills that were losers in a 30% inflation world? The dollar has lost 99% of its purchasing power in 30 or 40 years at a few percent. No doubt that I like nickels, silver and gold.

All I’m saying is do trust. Have a Plan B, Plan C … and some bullion in your basement.

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