How to Check 401(k) Balance

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How to Check 401(k) Balance

Monitoring how much you have saved in your 401(k) retirement account puts you in control of your finances.

You can check your 401(k) balance online, through the account statements you receive, through your employer, or by calling your 401(k) service provider. 

Let’s dive into the details below.

What is a 401(k)?

A 401(k) refers to a retirement fund account sponsored by employers. Employees can contribute a portion of their pre-tax wages to individual accounts, and employers can match these contributions. 

Your contributions to a Traditional 401(k) account up to $22,500 (for 2024) can be deducted from your taxable income for the year. If you are older than 50, you may qualify for catch-up contributions that allow you to exceed the standard limit by up to $7,500 (for 2024), for a total of $30,000. 


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Where to find your 401(k)

You should be able to see your 401(k) account balance through the account provider’s website. 

Get in touch with your current or former employer’s human resources (HR) department if you need information about your 401(k) provider. 

If your old employer is no longer in business, use the Abandoned Plan Search on the Department of Labor website.

You can also check the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits or the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website and perform a search for Unclaimed Property. 

How to check 401(k) balance in 4 ways

You can monitor your 401(k) accounts in multiple ways. Here are some of them.

1. Online

The easiest way to check your 401(k) account balance is by logging in to a provider’s website portal.

Most companies outsource retirement and pension accounts to investment managers like Fidelity Investments, Merrill Edge, Charles Schwab Corp., and The Vanguard Group Inc. These companies have online portals that allow you to log in and monitor your 401(k) account. 

2. Employer’s Website

Some employers allow you to check your 401(k) balance through their websites. 

3. Phone

Call the plan administrator at the company that holds your 401(k) account and ask about your account. Your 401(k) statement should also have the plan administrator’s contact details. 

If not, contact the HR department and request details about the company’s 401(k) provider. Alternatively, you can look up the contact information about your plan administrator in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Form 5500 database

4. Statements

If you have a 401(k) account, you should receive a paper or electronic statement indicating your balance and other information in your mailbox or registered email. 

How often should you check your 401(k)?

Experts have a variety of opinions on how often people should check their accounts. Some suggest checking as infrequently as possible. Others recommend checking semi-annually and quarterly if you can handle volatile returns. 

You don’t have to check long-term retirement investments too often but monitor your 401(k) balance at least annually. 

Checking your account too often can jeopardize your retirement goals because normal volatility could make losses appear too prominent. If you see that you’ve lost money you may reduce your 401(k) contributions.

Why is it important to check your 401(k) balance?

Knowing how much you have saved for retirement matters for several reasons.

1. Track your progress toward retirement goals

Regularly checking how much you have in your 401(k) account allows you to gauge your progress toward your retirement goals. 

2. Ensure your investments align with your risk tolerance

Make it a habit to monitor your 401(k) to see whether the performance of your investments aligns with your risk tolerance

3. Adjust contributions

Tracking how much you have in your 401(k) allows you to adjust your contributions to stay on course with your retirement goals and risk appetite. 

What happens if you don’t check your 401(k) balance?

Not checking your 401(k) balance may lead to missed opportunities. 

For instance, if your 401(k) is lower than anticipated and you’re unaware of it, it may be too late to consider other investments to boost your investment returns. You may also miss changes in your account like higher fees that eat into your retirement savings. 

Keep track of retirement savings 

As one of the most effective ways to save for retirement, it pays to monitor your 401(k) accounts regularly. At least once a year, check your 401(k) account balance and make changes to rebalance your portfolio and track your progress toward your retirement goals.

FAQ

Is there a penalty for checking my 401(k) balance?

No. You can check your 401(k) account balance for free, in most cases. Contact the human resources department for your former or current employer if you need help.

What information do you need to check your 401(k) balance?

You need login credentials — username and password — if you log in through an online portal. In some cases, you may have to prove your identity by providing your Social Security number and other details.

What happens to your 401(k) if you change jobs?

If your 401(k) plan is at least $5,000, you can leave the plan with your former employer. You can also merge your old 401(k) account to your current 401(k), withdraw your 401(k) savings, or roll over your 401(k) into an individual retirement account (IRA).

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