If you want to check your 401k balance, start by asking your employer’s HR department for information about the plan provider. In most cases, you’ll be able to log into the plan provider’s website to check your balance, and even reallocate your investments.
Regularly checking the balance of your 401k plan gives you a chance to monitor investment performance, calculate your net worth, and reassess your portfolio. And if you opened a new retirement account, like a solo 401k, you might also want to see how much you can rollover.
While checking on a current 401k plan is fairly straightforward, many employees rarely check their balance. Most corporate 401k plans automatically invest your money for you. And because the investment options in a 401k are usually just a mix of mediocre funds, you may not have been compelled to check your balance very frequently.
This guide will walk you through how to easily check your 401k balance, and some reasons why you might want to check it periodically even if your funds are automatically invested.
How to check the balance of your current 401k plan
There are three ways to check the balance of your 401k account.
- Asking your HR department.
- Logging in to the plan administrator’s website.
- Through a plan statement mailed or emailed to you by your plan provider at least once a year.
If you lost access to your login, or have never logged in before, you should start by talking to your HR department. They’ll either give you your balance directly, or they’ll provide instructions on how to login to a web portal and check it online.
Keep in mind that the company you work for doesn’t directly administer your 401k plan. Instead, they’ll refer you to their investment managers that take care of the company pension accounts. Once you know who the plan administrator is, you can go their website, and try resetting your login information. Depending on the plan provider, you may even be able to reallocate your investments using their online portal.
Check plan statements
Most company 401k plans also send out a plan statement at least once per year. Statements are sent out by mail or email, so if you haven’t been receiving any statements, you may want to check with HR to make sure that they have your correct contact information.
Why you should check your balance frequently
Even though a corporate 401k usually runs on automatic, it’s still important to check how your investment are performing and to reassess your retirement strategy.
You also may not have considered all the options available to you. A 401k is not the only retirement plan you have access to. As an employee, you get one by default from your employer, but you could also open a Roth IRA or a solo 401k. If your company allows it, you could rollover your 401k funds while you’re still working there.
Not all 401k plans have automated investments
If you haven’t checked your 401k balance in a while, it may be a good idea to verify that your money is being invested automatically. There’s a small chance that it could be sitting there in cash. While a 401k usually doesn’t have very lucrative investment options available, it still beats holding cash, which only gets weakened by inflation.
Many people will let their 401k plans sit, accrue nominal interest over the years, and they’ll never think about it again. However, a 401k is usually not the best retirement account if you want to maximize your retirement savings, and you may have several better options that are available.
For instance, if you started a side business on the weekends, you can be eligible for a solo 401k. As long as you have any self-employment income and no full-time employees (besides your spouse), you’re eligible. It doesn’t matter if you only make a few hundred dollars per month driving for Uber on the weekends.
A solo 401k is the superior retirement plan compared to a regular 401k. You get to invest in any asset class you want, and contribution limits are much higher since you contribute as both the employer and the employee.
If your company allows rollovers while you’re still employed there, you can get access to more investment options and bigger tax-savings through rolling the funds into something like a Roth IRA or solo 401k.
Checking your 401k balance is easy if you still work at the company offering the plan. Usually, most employees have online access to a web portal where they can check their balance and even reallocate their investments.
Additionally, most companies will mail out a plan statement at least once a year. If you lost access, you can reach out to your company’s HR and they should be able to help you regain access to your account.
Remember, though, that the company you work for does not directly manage and administer the plans. Instead, they use a plan provider. If HR is unable to help you, you can try reaching out to the plan provider directly.
If you departed from the company and need to find your old 401k, here’s how to track down a lost 401k account.