Free Money for Retirement

If your company matches contributions, you’ve got a head start.

Even modest contributions to a savings plan could mean the difference between retiring comfortably and never being able to retire at all. The good news is that most big companies, and many small ones, offer a 401(k) plan. If you work in the public sector, you may be offered a 403(b) or 457 plan; the federal government’s version is called the Thrift Savings Plan.

Money is automatically deducted from your paycheck and invested in a portfolio of mutual funds or other investments. Your contributions will grow, tax-deferred, until you withdraw the money. In 2015, you can contribute up to $18,000. That may be more than you can spare. But if your company matches contributions, you should contribute at least enough to get that match. The typical company match is 25% to 100% of your contribution, up to 6% of your salary.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.