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It is said that it is not how much you make but how much you keep. So, what companies provide the most generous 401k matches? I often wonder what it would be like to just find the best 401k plan providers and work for them for several years just to bankroll the money for retirement and then move on to a job somewhere else. Has anyone done this and care to share the memories?
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I wouldn't limit your thinking to just 401(k) plans but look at the total picture including money purchase / profit sharing plans as well. Following is a post I made about a month ago on the Passion Savings board:

I would like ot tackle this issue from a different perpective presuming, just for the moment, that people will eventually gravitate toward occupations they are basically good at and reasonably enjoy and that FIRE wannabe's will LBYM. What that leaves is the environment within which one performs their labors.

I would like to suggest that people should attempt to perform their services within the "professional service sector". Why? Because almost all professional service firms function as partnerships (forget their real legal formation), e.g. lawyers, accoutants, architects, engineers, actuaries, etc. Becuase they function as partnerships & because of external legal constraints, this environment creates a couple of interesting aspects:

1. There is invariably a dicotomy of the "professionals" versus the administrative support organization; e.g. a legal secretary.

2. The professionals are further split between partners (or their equivalent) & associates.

3. Administrative support personnel (primarily due to a lack of job progression) tend to make 5% to 25% above market averages.

4. The organization itself has zero capacity to create future period value for its owners; e.g. the firm can not issue common stock (outside of itself) or stock options; thus, most professional partnership owners are forced into current financial period thinking; e.g. take my profits now because there is no way to take them in the future.

5. These origanizations invariably result in three employee classes: admin. support, in a variety of jobs that pay slightly above market say in the $25k to $75k range; the associates, who will either become owner/partners or leave, say in the $50K to $125k range, and the current owners, say in the $200k to $1mm range.

6. These firms owners are all concerned above retirement savings and all adopt §401(k) plans and/or §401(a) defined contribution / profit sharing plans. Further, the owner decision-makers all want to maximize their personal retirement savings and accordingly adopt fairly "rich" plans in order to make their individual $30k (now $40k) per annum contributions. In order to do so, there are a variety or restrictions and opportunities within IRC §§401-424 which usually results in full benefits (meaning contributions) for the owners, reduced or no benefits for the associates, and full benefits for the administrative staff. A typical (what is called a social security integrated formula) would be something like 10% of pay contribution up to $70,000 followed by a 16% of pay contribution from $70k to $175K.

So, let's say you are a legal secretary currently making $40k. If you contribute 10% and your employer contributes 10%; that's 20% per year. You will have over a $1mm in approximately 20 years depending on what assumptions you make. The point is that this job with Dewey, Cheatum & Howe should be compared with the same secretarial job working for General Motors. The differences are astronomical becuase of the employer contribution which is unavoidable by the partner/owners.

TheBadger
(who has been consulting to professional service firms for over 15 years)


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I believe PG&E had the best (or one of the best) benefit plans in the country (including 401k). But I think they matched in the plan with stock, which rose at a steady rate. That is until the day they declared bankruptcy, and those who were about to retire lost everything.
Just something else to think (worry?) about.

Beth
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I look at the big picture with 401k getting a higher weighting than others. I am happy where I am, and the whole picture makes it great.
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I used to work for a company that had awesome benifits. 6% match on 401k, not "50% of the first 6%"...100% of the first 6%. Full ride medical/dental/disability/vision/life, at the no cost to the employee. However, they didn't pay very well, so I left. Now I make twice as much money, but my benifits suck :(

Between the two, I'd still take the higher paying job. There are other factors that play in to it like shorter commute and better working environment, but all things being equal...I can always invest the after tax cash.

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I work for a goverment research facility, and I definately took the job for the benefits, but, it wasn't just the 401k, it was the whole package.

I had several jobs in a row with no or poor benefits. One was a salaried position, working 45-50 hours a week, a medical package I was never officially offered (they just "forgot" to tell me about it when it was time to enroll me), unpaid holidays and vacation, I had to come in and *make up* sick time (despite being on salary), and a supervisor who came in and asked my co-worker to procure prostitutes for him (among other charming habits). The next was working for an ISP - low pay (but, at least it was hourly), unpaid holidays and vacation, no formal benefits except a free dial-in account. The last was working for a credit union. I left before the benefits kicked in, but, they were reputedly pretty poor.

I now work for a facility that will pay 10%% of my base salary into a 401k after 2 years of employment (*not* matching, just free money), has a choice of nice medical plans, decent dental (not wonderful, but, not terrible), 18 vacation days a year, sick time, paid holidays, and good education benefits (they pay 75% of undergraduate studies). It's not the ultimate cream of benefits, but, they're very good and very solid, and the employment situation is very *secure* on top of it.

The fact that I had to be willing to work nights and weekends to get my "foot into the door", was just a bonus for me because I'm a night owl anyway :).

Gwen

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My company used to have a great match: Over 70% match on 10%.

Tougher times hit and they lowered the match. We still got the matching money in company stock, and had to invest half of our own contribution in company stock (overall performance: negative each year for the last three years). Now, they eliminated the match.

I hope nobody hired on because of the 401k plan.
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