A 401k is a workplace savings plan that allows you to build wealth by investing a portion of your pay check in assets such as stocks, mutual funds, or real estate investment trusts (REITs). It is also the primary way employers help their employees prepare for retirement, and has the added benefit of allowing an employee to invest part of their salary before taxes are taken out.
While all 401k plans offer tax breaks to retirement savers, many other features of these retirement accounts differ, sometimes significantly, by employer. 401k plans are an effective way to shelter money from taxes because your contributions are deducted from your taxable income. So if you made $50,000 last year and invested $10,000 in your 401k, you’d only have to pay taxes on the remaining $40,000. This can be a great tactic, especially for people who live well within their means and can afford to save a big chunk of their salary.