Track Your 401(k)

But while you can’t adjust the contents of your 401(k), you should be tracking its growth. You should know how much money you have in your 401(k) and how quickly it’s growing. If you can see that your 401(k) is growing more slowly than you’d like, you can get it back on track by adding more money or by reducing your contributions and investing somewhere else.

That might happen. Over your working life, the markets will fall. There will be periods of recession. No market ever grows continuously. You should be taking the long view, and focusing on the overall percentage in growth, but if you start to see that you’re drifting away from your retirement target, you can make adjustments. You can only do that, though, if you know how much your 401(k) is worth.

Ideally, your 401(k) fund should send you a regular statement. You’ll either receive it in your email or you’ll get a paper statement in your physical mailbox. It looks like the kind of bureaucratic paperwork that you glance at then toss away. Make sure that you examine it carefully and keep it. It will help you to see how quickly your retirement money is growing.

If you’re not receiving your statement, you should be able to log into the website of your fund provider. That will show you how much you’ve contributed each month, how much it’s grown each year, and how much you’ve paid in fees. If you don’t have access to the website, ask your HR department how you can track your 401(k) fund.

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