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Confused by your 401(k)? Walter Hamilton answers your questions

August 22, 2013|By Stacey Leasca
  • Many Americans are confused by their 401(k) plans. According to a new survey by Charles Schwab Corp., more people say they're confused by their 401(k)s than by their health insurance plans.
Many Americans are confused by their 401(k) plans. According to a new survey… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

Dreaming of an early retirement? Squirreling away a little from each paycheck is a great place to start. Where should you put it? Under the mattress? Hide it in the backyard?

Most financial advisors would recommend stashing your cash in a 401(k). The problem? The majority of Americans are so confused about the retirement fund that they don’t know where to start.

In a nationwide survey by Charles Schwab of more than 1,000 401(k) plan participants, more than half of respondents said they find explanations of their 401(k) investments more confusing than explanations of their healthcare benefits.

And while the confusion runs deep, the importance of having a little extra change for later years was not lost among survey participants. Sixty-one percent of respondents said their 401(k) is their only or their largest source of retirement savings.

To help untangle some of the 401(k) confusion, the Los Angeles Times hosted an open Twitter chat with business reporter Walter Hamilton, who has covered financial matters for The Times for the last 15 years.

Questions quickly flooded in from confused savers. Here is the complete chat with questions and answers:

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