The following is by John Wasik, a columnist for Reuters.com and author of “The Audacity of Help: Obama’s Economic Plan and the Remaking of America.” The opinions expressed are his own.
I bet you don’t know that more than a half-dozen fees can eat away at your retirement funds. The rules will tell you how much your retirement plan is costing you. Not only will you be able to tell how much your kitty is being diminished every year, you’ll be able to lobby your employer to cut expenses.
This is empowering for the more than 50 million defined contribution plans like 401(k)s and 403(b)s which have about $7 trillion invested. Since most employers pass these fees along to you—and they are deducted from your account—you may not realize how consistently your wealth is being depleted. It’s cruel and silent, although you can do something about it.
Seemingly trivial expenses add up to devour your retirement account. Say you have a $500,000 401(k) balance and are saving over 30 years at a modest 5 percent. At 1.5 percent in annual expenses, you will have paid more than $400,000 in fees and lost $386,000 in earnings. Knock those expenses down to 0.5 percent and you’d save $485,000 over three decades.