I almost never get tired of answering money questions from my friends or blog readers, but there's one question I get entirely too often: Should I be in my 401(k)?
I mostly get this question from people early in their careers who are 20- or 30-somethings, but it hasn't been limited to them. My answer to the question never changes, nor does the level of alarm I feel over the frequency with which I'm asked.
So when a friend in his 20s asked me yesterday if he should be contributing to his 401(k), I responded with two questions: "Are you in the business of turning down free money?" and "Do you like paying higher taxes?" If the answers to one or both of those questions is yes, then you probably shouldn't put money in your 401(k).
If the answer is no, you should be in your HR office enrolling right now.
Can somebody tell me: are 401(k)s that big a mystery? If you're reading this, are you contributing to your company-sponsored retirement plan, and why or why not?