Business

Tighten the belt in 2009

Problem: Your employer just suspended its 401(k) matching contribution.

Solution: Try to save more, and consider an individual retirement account.

Companies slammed by the economic downturn, like General Motors, have suspended their 401(k) matching contributions. The match might have been a major motivational force for you to contribute to the plan, but your employer's cost cutting doesn't give you an excuse to cut back on your own saving.

First, make sure you've established an emergency fund outside the 401(k). It's always a good idea to have about six months' worth of living expenses stashed away in cash.

And because the match suspension might be a sign that your employer is in financial trouble, that emergency fund can help ease anxiety over sudden layoffs.

Ideally, you also should boost your own contributions to the 401(k) to make up for the amount your employer is no longer contributing.

"The employee's need to save for retirement doesn't go away just because the match does," says Trisha Brambley, president of Resources for Retirement, a retirement-plan advisory firm in Newtown, Pa.

The Wall Street Journal

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