What should I know about 401(k) fees and how can I minimize them?

3 min read

If you have a 401(k) plan, you might be paying fees that can reduce your retirement savings. Here is how they affect your investment returns and how you can minimize them.

What are 401(k) fees?

401(k) fees are charges to participate in your employer-sponsored retirement plan. They cover the costs of administering the plan, providing investment options, and offering other services. Your employer pays some fees, while others are deducted from your account balance or investment returns.

How do 401(k) fees affect your investment returns?

401(k) fees can significantly impact your investment returns over time. Even a slight difference in fees can add up to thousands of dollars in lost savings. For example, Suppose you have a 401(k) account with a balance of $100,000 and an annual return of 7%. If you pay 0.05% in fees annually, your account will grow to $750,626 in 30 years. However, if you pay 0.5% annual fees, your account will only grow to $661,436 in 30 years. That’s a difference of $89,180!

How can you minimize 401(k) fees?

You can minimize 401(k) fees and maximize your retirement savings in several ways. Here are some tips:

  1. Compare the fees of different investment options in your plan: This information is in the summary plan description, annual report, and fee disclosure statement. Look for the expense ratio, the percentage of assets that pays for the fund's management and operation costs. Choose low-cost index funds or ETFs that track a broad market index, such as the S&P 500 or Russell 2000.

  2. Avoid funds that charge sales loads or commissions. These are fees that you pay when you buy or sell a fund, and they can range from 1% to 6% of your investment amount, reducing your initial investment and lowering your returns over time.

  3. Avoid funds that charge 12b-1 fees: These are fees that some funds charge to cover their marketing and distribution costs. They can range from 0.25% to 1% of your assets per year, and they do not benefit you as an investor and only increase the fund's expense ratio.

  4. Avoid funds with high turnover rates: They incur higher trading costs and generate more taxable capital gains distributions. They can reduce your returns significantly.

  5. Ask your employer to negotiate lower fees with the plan provider or switch to a lower-cost provider. Your employer has a fiduciary duty to act in your best interest and ensure the plan's fees are reasonable and competitive.

  6. Rollover over your 401(k) accounts into your current account: You may pay unnecessary fees if you have multiple 401(k) accounts from previous employers. Consolidated into one account and saved on fees and paperwork. Roll over your 401(k) accounts into an IRA, which may offer more investment choices and lower fees than your employer's plan.

We understand that navigating your 401(k) and minimizing fees can be daunting. Our 401(k) Optimizer analyzes your current 401(k) plan and provides personalized recommendations on optimizing your investments and reducing fees. With Xillion's 401(k) Optimizer, you can save more for your retirement by increasing your returns and reducing fees.

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