Many companies who offered a 401K plan have employee’s who generally do not understand how they work. We all know what they are for – to accrue money for later on in life, when you are retired, or when you no longer have money coming into your household. Someone starting a 401K at the age of 18, putting in only a minimal percentage of their paycheck, will actually accrue more money in their account than someone who is middle-aged, putting in a maximum percentage from their check.

There are a few things you need to do in order for you to get what you expect from your plan. To invest in your 401K plan you should know your risk tolerance. The idea of risk tolerance is simple: someone who is younger has fewer risks than someone who is older. A teenager is going to have decades to make up for any mistake they have made, while an adult is going to have more consequences, repercussions, and less time. Investing in stocks with high risk (which your plan should be able to determine for you) means that you could lose a lot. If you are not in a position to do this, avoid those investments.

Another very important thing for you to do when investing in your 401K plan is to research your stocks. With each stock you will get a pamphlet, description, report, etc explaining the investment appropriate for you. You may get confused, and these descriptions may be long and boring to read, but it is important that you know where you are putting your money. If you need assistance in understanding or deciphering this information, contact your plan 401k investment advice.

The safest way to let your investments grow and accumulate money by investing in your 401K plan is to choose a year that is closest to your retirement year. It may not always be a good idea to “put all your eggs in one basket,” but these kinds of stocks are better to invest in rather than high risk stocks, or stocks that you do not fully understand.

A major worry when it comes to the stocks you invest in is what will happen to you if they drop. Depending on your risks, a loss in one investment can be balanced out by a gain in another. Unless your investments keep dropping over a long period of time, this should eventually even itself out without you having to withdraw your funds. However, if you see a pattern of decline, it is very important to manage your money intelligently, and reduce your risks to prevent a large loss. In addition, keep in mind that while high risk stocks may be rising rapidly, they can still decline just as rapidly. Watch these closely if you choose to invest for this reason. When you have lost a certain percentage or amount, such as five percent, you will know that you should reallocate your investments.

You can check your account as often as you like, but as long as your stocks are in the right place, you should not have to change these often, unless you are investing in higher risked investments. You can use the amount or percentage that you have gained or lost as a good guideline to know if an investment is right for you. As long as you know when to re-invest that money, you will hopefully not suffer any major losses.

Finally, investing in a 401K plan means long-term returns. You must ultimately think of long term with each of your investments, as well.

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