On its 40th anniversary, let us celebrate the 401(k). And then let’s get to work solving the problems left unresolved a generation ago.
The 401(k) has enabled millions of everyday workers to put away substantial sums for retirement, do it conveniently and get some tax savings. Without this mechanism and without the discipline of regular savings, future retirees might be left with just Social Security to rely on.
As you have probably heard, about forty years ago corporations that experienced the rising and fluctuating cost of traditional pensions stopped offering this lifelong, guaranteed source of retirement income. Instead, employees were steered toward the 401(k), where they could save pre-tax dollars for use when they stopped working.