How to Tell if You Have a Good 401(k) Plan

A generous 401(k) match and low-cost investment options can boost your chances of a secure retirement.

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Plan costs. Beginning on July 16, 2011, 401(k) service providers will be required to disclose the fees and charges deducted from 401(k)'s. Until then, ask for a copy of each fund's prospectus and pay particular attention to the funds' expense ratios. Look for funds with an expense ratio below 1 percent, especially when it comes to index funds, ETFs, and passively managed funds, Solin says. "If all the expenses for your 401(k) are more than 1.5 percent, that is starting to look like it is really going to eat into your returns."

[See 10 Ways to Ruin Your Retirement.]

Responses to employee needs. Employers use 401(k)'s to attract and retain productive workers. If you're not happy with your 401(k) plan, consider suggesting changes to your human resources department. "Ask your employer to consider making enhancements to the plan and suggest one or two—or no more than three—things," says Hutcheson. "Show the employer how the change would impact how much you have at retirement. I have found time and time again that very seldom does an employer say no to that."