Top 3 Mistakes I made with my 401k

Regret…. that feeling that creeps into your brain after you know you did something dumb. Sometimes in happens quickly, like yesterday after I knew I’d eaten too many french fries. Sometimes it take a while, like years, for you to realize that you made a dumb move.

Ben is watching. Don’t disappoint him. Contribute to your 401k.

There are definitely things that I’ve done (or not done) that I sincerely regret financially. Most of them have to do with saving money for retirement.

I started early, but not early enough. Pretty much any financial expert will tell you that its best to start saving for retirement as early as possible. The first job I had out of college, I didn’t take full advantage of their retirement plan. They contributed an automatic 1% of my salary to a retirement account regardless of whether I contributed anything. No matching, so I didn’t contribute. Plus, I knew that I wouldn’t be at that job long. My husband was looking for a job in a different state, and we were saving up for moving expenses. Still, if I had contributed just a LITTLE BIT, that money would be worth more now.

Save for retirement by saving money early, invest in your 401k, and max out your retirement contributions
Learn from my mistakes. Don’t make these three mistakes with your 401k. Save early and invest.

I saved, but I didn’t invest. My second job had a much nicer retirement plan. If I saved 5% of my salary, they would match it. Even though I’d never really thought about retirement before, I thought “yes! that’s free money!” I like free money, so I will definitely contribute 5%! But I had NO IDEA which fund to put my money in. I looked at my options and was just confused. WTH is an S&P 500 index fund? Sounds fancy. I didn’t trust myself to chose a good fund so I just checked the box next to the safest investment I could choose…bonds.  I SHOULD had done a quick google search on the other funds and tried to understand what they were. If I had, I wouldn’t have been afraid to invest in them. Also, this was just before the 2008 market crash. If I had invested wisely, I would have been contributing to funds at their cheapest price in recent history.  Ugh.

Avoid these mistakes with your 401k.
Invest wisely. Research your retirement plans so you understand what you are investing in.

I’m still not maxing out my contributions. This regret is going to be remedied soon! First, Mr. Cents and I are going to pay off our car and student loan debts, and then we are going to max out our contributions. If everything goes according to plan, we will pay off all of our debt minus our house in the next three years.

How about you? Do you have retirement-savings regrets?

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