Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts Retirement Related

I’ve Never Participated in My Companies 401(k). – Steve

“Dear Steve,

I am 40 yrs old and have been working at the current corporation for about 10 years now. I have not participated in the 401K plan(they do not contribute or match at all). I feel like i am the only one there who doesnt. Now everyone probably have some decent money towards retirement and I have nothing at all towards retirement. 6 months ago, i looked into contributing 3 or 4% and there was nobody available to help me allocate how much to each fund. so i checked the website for each of the available mutual funds, and all of them are at a loss for the last few years so i was stumped. So the other option is to just put it all in the money market which is a 3% or 4% or so return. I ended up doing nothing and still dont participate.

Anyway, My question is, here it is 10 yrs later, was that a mistake not to have been participating? and the other question – is there anything else i can do for retirement,outside of the 401k through my job, that would be just as good or better than this 401k? or is this my best option?? any other comments on this situation would be greatly appreciated too. Thanks so much


Dear Steve,

The stock market is the one area that over time has performed better than almost any other investment. While the market has been down if you look back on a short period of time, you need to look at it like this, right not we are in a valley. The valley is the cheapest and best time to invest. You are buying low and by the time you get towards retirement those stocks would be worth a lot right now. Imagine if you had been diligently investing every payday since 1979, you’d be in awesome shape for retirement now.

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Your 401(k) must work with some investment company. I’d suggest you contact that mutual fund company and discuss your situation with them. They will guide you into a fund that meets your current goals and can suggest other ways to invest. Maybe you are a more aggressive investor, willing to take bigger risks for bigger rewards. maybe you are more comfortable with less volatility and more conservative investments.

Now just because many funds have been down over the last few years, not all have. Some have posted good gains, or not lost value. And some over the past year have returned over 60%.

Bottom line, you will never regret saving money for retirement.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  • so it seems as though between you and Joe, you are saying to focus first on getting $2000 in savings, then focus on getting out of cc debt, then start the traditional IRA? I guess since it could take many many years to get out of cc debt, i thought i was wasting valuable time of not building anything towards retirement. on the other hand, when the cc debt is gone, there will be so much extra $ to put in the IRA :o) Thanks so much for all of your help and advice!

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