You're saving for your retirement, right? You're feeling pleased with yourself as you're putting away a good chunk of money every month in your 401(k). But are you really getting what you think you're getting? Here is an ugly truth that your employer -- or your 401(k) administrator won't tell you. Read on to find out more.

The sad fact is that you may not exactly be getting what you think you're getting. You probably believe that a 401(k) won't cost you anything. Think again...

Your 401(k) account, like everyone else's, mainly consists of mutual funds. And they cost money to administer. Here's how it works:

There are four different types of mutual funds, and they all have different fee arrangements. It's probably not done to deliberately confuse you. After all, you're usually urged to read the prospectus, and you can find out about most of the fees if only you'll read it carefully enough.

• Annual expense fees - You can find out about these in the prospectus if you know where to look. They finance the fund manager's salary, and can be a great deal of variation from fund to fund.

• 12b-1 fees - Once again, you can look those up in the prospectus. These fees are used to offset the costs involved in advertising the fund. Usually, they range from .25% to 1% per year.

• Sales loads - That's something to look for as well, though fortunately, most larger 401k plans do not include sales loads charges in their mutual funds, so you should be okay here.

• Portfolio turnover fees - These fees can be sneaky -- and they can add up. That's because you don't have control over how much turnover there will be in your funds. And if they trade a lot, your charges will be higher and can easily add another .5% to your total fees.

Now tally them up. You will be shocked to discover that your fund may cost you 2.5% or more. Imagine that the markets had an average growth of 5% -- in that case, you'll be paying half of that in fees, so your gains will be just 2.5%. And that's in a good year.

Unfortunately, you'll probably be unaware of this process. Only if you look closely will you wonder why your money isn't growing any faster. Well, there's a reason for that.

The sneaky thing is that these expenses won't appear on your statements. Instead, they're deducted from the daily share prices of the funds in your portfolio.

And there's good news too. Fees vary widely, and it is possible to pick funds that charge low fees but bring good returns. And if you can figure out how to do that you'll be ahead of the game. But how to find out? Get some expert help. And when you're looking for that expert, make sure that the person giving you advice won't earn commissions if you follow it.

Author's Bio: 

Can you keep your money safe and still watch it grow -- even now? Discover how the wealthy do it and follow their lead -- with the help of Steven Floyd, a fee-only financial advisor. Visit or call him at 310-540-6197. And here's a related article on investing money safely.