Did You Do The Right Thing In Your 401(k) During The COVID Crisis?

Forbes - September 15, 2020


To say the least, it’s been a time of high anxiety for retirement savers. Some 20 million have lost their jobs. Employers have cut their 401(k) contributions. Emergency savings have been tapped. Millions of Americans, though, simply want to know how to move forward. They just want to know if they’re doing the right thing with their retirement planning.

It’s been a trying time. “Saving for retirement has been a top financial stressor for people even when the markets were setting records and we were living through the longest bull market in history,” said Catherine Golladay, executive vice president and head of Workplace Financial Services at Charles Schwab.

What have retirement savers been doing? This is what a recent Schwab survey found:

  • Forty-one percent of those responding to the survey have made changes to their 401(k) as a direct result of COVID-19 and its economic impact.

  • The top action steps taken by these individuals were a combination of defensive and potentially opportunistic moves.

  • Of the 41% who acted, 14% rebalanced their portfolio and 12% increased their contribution rate. These individuals also indicated that they either increased (8%) or decreased (7%) their exposure to stock funds/equity.

  • More than three quarters (77%) of survey respondents are also offered Health Savings Accounts by their employer. Almost half (45%) of participants use an HSA, and, of those, 13% have used it to cover COVID-19-related expenses this year.

Among these bullet points, rebalancing and contributing more were positive steps. If you need to build your kitty or feel comfortable with the amount of risk you’re taking, it’s a good time to do that.

When it comes to HSAs, more should be contributing. Keep in mind that that is money you can keep, even when you leave an employer. If you don’t use it for health-related expenses, you can tap it for retirement income (although you will pay tax on it).

The overall takeaway: Even in a crisis, it’s always a good time to be saving more if you’re in a position to do so.






John F. Wasik, Contributor


© 2020 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved


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