K Participants Reaping Match Benefits

February 13, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Over half of the country's 401(k) plan participants take full advantage of their employer's matching contribution, a survey finds.

Some 53% of respondents to the survey by Strong Retirement Plan Services contribute up to the match or more – meaning they get the full benefit over the long term, while a further 23% either max out by contributing as much as plan rules and discrimination testing allow.

Only 5% contributed less than the plan match amount, while 19% contributed only what they could afford. 

The survey also found that while a majority of the 401(k) investors say they make financial decisions based on their goals, a significant number struggle with basic financial planning which can hobble their retirement savings program.

  • some 56% of respondents prioritized their savings based on their goals,
  • just over a quarter saved for their most pressing need first,
  • fewer than one in ten did not know how to prioritize their savings,
  • while 10% didn’t think about savings goals at all

When it comes to pinpointing goals, all participants mentioned retirement, but many also brought up:

  • college,
  • a home,
  • a car,
  • an emergency fund,
  • a second home, or
  • home remodeling

More than 10% said they were saving for more than one goal. 
 The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2001 and encompassed approximately 2,500 participants in 401(k) plans administered by Strong.