Job-hopping millennials leave behind 401k plans

Posted at 6:06 AM, Jul 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-18 09:21:07-04

If you had a pot of money: 5000, 20,000 even 40,000 dollars would you forget about it?  Some millennials are doing just that! “It's definitely something I think is pretty widespread,” said Financial Planner, Ryan Frailich, founder of Deliberate Finances, which works with millennial investors. 

A. T. Kearney’s “2017 Future of Advice Study” shows in 2017: 59% of millennials, between the ages of 25 to 34, with tens of thousands of dollars saved, had at least one 401k at a prior employer. While the same was true for only 41% of investors overall. 

Why is the millennial generation leaving 401k’s with former companies? “With a lot of younger people, they are changing jobs more frequently than generations have in the past,” Frailich says 

These US Department of Labor stats show millennials are job-hopping more than older workers. Some of Frailich’s clients have left several 401k’s behind.  Many tell him when they change employers, life can get stressful and busy.  

“Money for your 60’s isn't really on your mind if you're moving cities, and changing to a new job, and having to find a new place to live,” Frailich says.

But leaving that money with former employers can cost you! Frailich had a client who left 10,000 dollars unattended in an old 401k. The account only made $400 dollars over time. 
His calculations found if other, more appropriate, investments were made it could have increased by $12,000, giving her a total of $22,000.

“The risk is that if you don't sit down to make an affirmative choice you might be leaving it in something that's an inappropriate investment,” Frailich says. 

Another risk is if the employer goes out of business, you may have a tough time tracking down your old 401k. He says, “Now you have to figure out how do I get an employer signature from a company that no longer exists because a signature from your employer is often required.” 

Experts say you don’t have to immediately move your money as soon as you change jobs…just don’t neglect it or forget about it. Frailich explains, “You might have better options elsewhere, but if you don't sit down and look at it you know you can't know that.” 

If you are trying to find an old 401k call the human resources department at your old company. 

If the place you worked closed and you’re having trouble locating your money, check out these sites for more information. 

National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: