Guest Post: The Magic of a Company Match

Hi, all!  Chris Pascale is here with us once again as a guest poster.  Tonight he’s going to share about maxing out your company’s retirement account match.

The Magic of a Company Match

By: Christopher Pascale

I work for the federal government.  So long as I do, I can contribute to a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which is like a 401(k), or a 403(b), but for federal employees.

A major benefit is that the government will match up to 5% of my pay.  As such, I’d never put in less.  If you have a company match, you must – at the very least – max it out. The main reason is because the match provides a 100% gain upon deposit. By not doing so, you’re taking a pay cut, which will be discussed at the end of this piece.

100% Gain on Day 1

If you have a company match, but aren’t taking it, you’re losing a 100% gain over a period of zero minutes.

So many investment professionals will tout the magic of compound interest – how they can double your money every 10 years with investments that will grow 7% or 8%.  By using the company match, you’ll double your investment not in 10 years, but in zero minutes. It doubles right off the bat.

Maxing Out Tax Savings

I’m not going to get into the intricacies of paying no taxes in old age.  What I will do is explain how by saving for your future, you can pay less taxes today.

This is a simplified example, so bear with me. Let’s say you earn $80,000, and are in the 25% tax bracket (there’s no 25% tax bracket right now, but there was one, and could be again).

If 25% of your $80k income was taxed, you’d pay $20k in taxes.  By participating in a matching program like mine, you’d invest 5%, or $4,000, which is then matched with another $4,000.

Along with having $8,000 put into your retirement account, you will now pay taxes on $76k instead of $80k.

That means you’ll pay $1,000 less in taxes while getting $4,000 extra!

Can Federal Employees Retire Millionaires?

In 35 years with the federal government (if you made $80k and never got a raise), you’d have contributed only $140,000 of your own pay, but your matched TSP would grow to about $1,200,000.

On top of that you’d have saved $35,000 in income taxes, as well.

This doesn’t account for federal employees’ traditional pensions, nor their Social Security payments.

Negative Reasons to Max Out Your Match

If good reasons were good enough in this life, people wouldn’t smoke, vape, or acquire trivia about the Kardashians (how can Rob put up with Blac Chyna, amirite?!?!).  Instead, they’d be reading good books (like mine!) and taking the stairs instead of the elevator once in a while.

I’ve told you some good reasons to max out your match, but there are some awful ones, too.

One of them is that monetary and farming policies are simply awful for the value of our currency.  For the good milk (from nourished cows instead of poisoned ones), it’s $5.99 for a half-gallon.  And honestly, once you’ve had an organic strawberry, the other red globules sold in the produce section taste like re-packaged garbage.  And don’t get me started on Sockeye versus farmed salmon!

Also, interest rates are going to rise.  This is shitty for people with no money, because borrowing will cost more.  But it’s great for people with money, because savings will be rewarded.

Lastly…it’s a part of your pay!  You’re actually giving yourself a pay cut if you don’t take the company match.  If it’s 1%, then you’re volunteering to take a 1% pay cut.  If it’s 5% like mine, that’s about $3,500 of my pay I’d be letting the government keep.

Am I so rich that I can just let the government keep $3,500 of MY MONEY for things like studying the benefits of genital washing?  Spoiler alert…I’m not!  And I have about half a dozen sources of income between military pensions, teaching college courses, and cockeyed schemes I get myself into that sometimes even make money – like writing!

If I can’t afford to take the pay cut of not maxing out my match, then you can’t, either!

Your future can be bright, but only if you let the light in.  There are outside forces working against you, but that’s not what is going to hurt you – in the USA.  What is going to hurt you are the internal forces you can control.

Take the company match. End of discussion.

Christopher Pascale is an author, accountant and adjunct professor from Long Island. He is the former CFO of Portfolios with Purpose, and is a current member of the IRS’ Office of the Chief Counsel.

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: The Magic of a Company Match

  1. haha “benefits of genital washing.” I could have sworn you were joking, but the link was there so I clicked.

    I’ve maxed out my company match for a few years now and it’s really grows. I make about $40k, but the account has over $10,000. I think when I retire, it could have $50,000, which is more than the $0 I had for most my working life.

    I tell all the young people where I work not to be like I was. You got to do this.

    Like

  2. I gladly take my full company match in my 401(k) and max out all tax-advantaged space, using my employer’s 401(k), 457(b), HSA, and an individual 401(k). I will probably be close to the 32% / 24% line for MFJ this year, and I expect most or all of my deductions will be in the 32% federal tax bracket (and 9.95% state tax bracket).

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    p.s. Thanks for the link!

    Like

    1. PoF: Thanks so much for commenting! I’ve long-enjoyed your work, and it has inspired me to begin writing on my way through the F.I.R.E. journey, which we have only just begun.

      Like

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