About Half of 401(k) Holders Find Them Confusing

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Slightly more than half of workers who have 401(k)'s think they're more difficult to understand than health insurance benefits.

You’re not the only one.

A majority of 401(k) holders are confused about how to manage it and want simple advice on where to invest, a new survey from Charles Schwab says. The company surveyed 1,000 401(k) participants about their plans and found that:

  • six out of 10 say a 401(k) is their only or largest source of retirement savings.
  • 52 percent think that investment plan information is more confusing than information on health care benefits.
  • 57 percent want an easier way to choose investments.
  • 46 percent aren’t sure of their best investment options.
  • 34 percent are seriously stressed out over where to put 401(k) dollars.

Don’t know where to invest the money in your retirement plan? Learn to manage your 401(k) in just a minute with the video below:

Despite the confusion, 401(k)’s are seeing their highest-ever average balance, Fidelity found last year, when the average reached $75,900. Most people (89 percent) now expect to fund their own retirement without much help from government programs, the Schwab study says.

“As of September 30, 2012, 401(k) plans held an estimated $3.5 trillion in assets and represented approximately 18 percent of the $19.4 trillion U.S. retirement market,” CNBC says. That’s more than double the 401(k) assets in 2002, and a larger share of the retirement market than a decade ago, when 401(k)’s represented about 15 percent of it.

Stacy Johnson

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