Money Talks: How Much Does Your 401(k) Cost?

Stop someone in your office and ask them what it cost to participate in the company retirement plan.

They'll probably say this: "Nothing. I don't have to pay anything as far as I'm concerned."

But that's not true. If you're one of the 40 million Americans with a 401(k) plan, and you invest in mutual funds, you probably pay fees for the privilege. You just don't know it.

The fees you pay are probably in here|the prospectus that describes how your fund invests and what it charges. They range all over the place| from a quarter of a percent a year to 3% or more.

You don't see these fees because they're coming out of your earnings. What's a percent or two over time? Over your working life, it's a Ferrari.

Say you put aside 5,000 a year for 30 years and earn @ 6% on it. You'll end up with just under $420,000. But if you could earn 7.5 instead, you'd save $555,000. That extra 1.5% in fees cost you $135,000.

Some in Congress recently tried to increase the disclosure of 401k fees, but it didn't make it into law. So it's still up to you to figure out what you're paying.

So look under the hood of your 401k. See what your fees are. If you don't like what you see, say something. And btw, here's an extra bonus: If you come to Money Talks, I can show you how to invest the money in your 401k in less than a minute.