We will hear those 401(k) complaints if markets tank

I used to joke that to save money, the local news stations should recycle footage that they collect from hardware stores and supermarkets when there is a snowstorm because the reports of people buying shovels, snowblowers, milk, and bread are the same every year and every snowstorm.

The same can be said about articles and reports about how bad 401(k) plans are. We heard about how bad the 401(k) plan was and the high costs back in 2000 and 2008 when the markets had huge corrections after big financial gains. If the markets have a correction this year (the markets are likely overvalued), expect to hear the complaints about how bad 401(k) plans are.

Yes, defined benefit plans were great, until plan sponsors realized it was cheaper for them to offer 401(k) plans and shift the cost of funding retirement from their ledger and switch it to the burden of employees. It’s not the 401(k) plan’s fault, it’s just employers who wanted to cut down on costs. People living longer didn’t help either.

So when you hear 401(k) plan complaints, just expect that means markets have gone south.

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