How many jobs have you worked across your career? If you’re in line with the average for Baby Boomers, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that you’ve had around 12. Although this is great work and life experience, it’s a nightmare for losing 401(k) accounts and other retirement savings. When we’re young, it’s natural to forget the odd account and move on with our lives. When we’re older, it’s suddenly a panic to locate all our hidden retirement savings.
We have three tips for those searching for hidden retirement money:
Unclaimed Retirement Benefits
Firstly, the internet is a wonderful place for research, and we recommend starting with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. As a federal agency, they provide insurance for certain pensions in the private sector and have a list of all pensions that haven’t been claimed. Elsewhere, here are another two brilliant services:
The latter belongs to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. If you don’t find any unclaimed pensions, you could still learn from the resources available across the two pages.
We aren’t saying you have millions tucked away somewhere because most unclaimed retirement accounts are small, but it’s still worth investigating. In the past, we’ve seen plenty of stories of people who had lost and rediscovered tens of thousands. Originally, they couldn’t find it after moving address, or the company changed record keepers, etc.
Speak with Ex-Employers
After changing jobs, your ex-employer may have been left in charge of your 401(k) or pension. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to the HR department for assistance. Get the plan administrator’s contact details, and don’t put the phone down until you have some information.
If we’re talking decades rather than years, there’s a chance the company was involved in an acquisition, merger, or closure. This will make your job harder, but don’t be afraid to keep digging if you think you have money saved in a pension plan. You can worry about accessing money and withdrawing later; you need to find lost retirement savings first.
Team Up with Financial Advisors
As the third tip, a financial advisor with all their experience and knowledge is always a good solution for financial problems. When meeting with an advisor, they will often start by getting you to tell the story of your work history. As they gather data and ask important questions, they have a great starting place for finding hidden retirement money.
To help the process, make notes of your job roles, the funds you had/have, and other details before the first meeting. Even if you didn’t actively sign up for a 401(k), there’s still a chance that a previous employer automatically enrolled you into a plan and took money from your paychecks. Isn’t it better to know than leave this money behind?
Whichever route you take, we recommend a proactive approach to find any lost funds that could help during retirement. If you’re a long way from retirement, keep tabs on all your savings and roll retirement funds into a new company plan or even a personal IRA (it will save lots of headaches later!).