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A 401(k) plan is one of the most convenient ways to stash away dollars for retirement. Funds contributed to the account can be deducted from your taxable income that year, and the money can be put in investments with the goal of growing your savings over time. But perhaps the biggest motivator to contribute to a 401(k) plan is an employer’s 401(k) match.
Many firms offer to match employee contributions to the 401(k) plan. Typically the employer contributes a certain amount to the employee’s 401(k) plan based on formulas and policies set by the company.
The Typical 401(k) Match
When an employer decides to offer a 401(k) plan for its workers, there are different types of plans on the market to choose from. The type of match provided in these plans can vary from company to company. Two common forms of matching are partial matches or dollar-for-dollar matches.
With partial matches, the idea is that when you contribute to the plan, your employer will also put in a portion of that amount, based on a formula. “Partial matches are when your employer will match part of the money you put into your 401(k), up to a certain amount,” says Scott Schleicher, a financial planning specialist group manager and senior financial advisor at Personal Capital in Denver, Colorado.
Many companies opt for the partial match in their plan. “The typical 401(k) match is 50 cents on the dollar up to 6% of the employee’s pay,” says Skeff Bisset, director of financial professional development at Wealth Continuum Group in Wilton, Connecticut. For instance, your employer might offer a partial match of 50% of what you contribute, up to 6% of your salary. If you earn $100,000 a year, the portion of your salary that is eligible for a match is $6,000, which is 6% of your salary. Since the company offers to match 50% of your contribution, you could expect the employer to contribute $3,000, which is 50% of $6,000.
With a dollar-for-dollar arrangement, you can expect your employer to contribute the same amount as you do, up to a point. “An example of dollar-for-dollar is up to 5% of your salary,” Schleicher says. For instance, perhaps you earn $100,000 a year and put 5% of your salary in a 401(k), which is $5,000. Your employer would contribute another $5,000. If you saved 2% of your salary in the 401(k), which amounts to $2,000, the company will also put in 2%, or another $2,000. If you save more, such as 6% of your pay (which is $6,000), the company will only put in 5% (which is $5,000), per the policy.
Some companies choose to offer higher matches to recruit and reward employees. Here are examples of several companies with generous employer 401(k) matches:
UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group).
Employees who have a 401(k) plan through Citigroup can expect a dollar-for-dollar match up to 6% of their eligible pay each year. For instance, if an employee contributes $6 of eligible pay, the company will also contribute $6, for a total of $12 to invest. This continues until the employee’s contributions surpass 6% of their eligible pay for the year. Citi additionally provides a fixed contribution of up to 2% of eligible pay, regardless of whether the employee contributes to the plan.
Qualcomm, which makes chips for smartphones and wireless devices, has structured its 401(k) plan so that employees at the lowest end of the pay scale can obtain a high level of matching. An employee receives a match of 100% up to the first $1,500 that is contributed to the 401(k) plan. For the next $1,500 saved by an employee, the company provides a 50% match. A 33% match is offered for the following $7,500. After that amount, employees receive a 10% match on their contributions. This continues up to the IRS contribution limit, which is $19,500 in 2021. For those who are 50 or older, up to $26,000 can be contributed.
Workers with a 401(k) plan through Southwest can expect to double their retirement savings up to a point. When workers contribute to the plan, Southwest will match the contributions dollar-for-dollar up to 9.3% of an employee’s eligible earnings. Upon entering the company’s plan, employees can roll over funds from their previous employer. In addition, employees can choose from a variety of investment options within the 401(k) plan.
Many employers limit how much of your retirement savings they are willing to match, but not UKG. Employees can receive a 45% match on every dollar they contribute to the UKG 401(k) plan. The company doesn’t have any caps on the 401(k) match. The only limit on the match is the IRS 401(k) contribution limit.
Through the 401(k) plan, employees can expect to receive a dollar-for-dollar match up to 10% of their eligible annual gross pay. In addition, the company provides stock options to employees.
Employees with a 401(k) plan through Walmart can expect a dollar-for-dollar match up to a certain amount. The company agrees to match any contribution of eligible wages to the plan, up to 6% of pay. Eligible pay includes regular salary or wages, overtime, paid time off and differential wage payments during qualified military leave.
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