I have been employed for a year and a half now, straight out of college. I work in tech so first year i was quite content with my salary. First year salary was almost all cash component (base + bonus) so I didn’t bother much about the different deductions including 2% on 401k.
Going into second year I got an increment for high performance and a promotion shortly after. Unfortunately the jump to base salary was not high enough to overcome the reduced second year bonus and my second year take home is roughly the same as my first year. I also learned the hard way that stocks are not equivalent to cash. The vesting schedule makes it unbearable and you pretty much forget about it when you only get it twice a year. Also I was quite infuriated that my high performance for last year was rewarded with stocks that will vest next year, leaving me with nothing for this year.
I was therefore keenly looking at all the deductions that were eating away. Taxes have increased but also noticed 401k was now at 4%. If it could be increased, it could be decreased as well, I thought. So I dug into fidelity settings and realized I could make it 0, not just 2%. I fully understand benefits of 401k such as employer matching, reduction of taxable income and compounding of wealth the earlier you start. But the fact that this money won’t make it into my pocket until I turn 60 is a deal breaker for me. At that age i will be content with life, not counting every penny as I am doing today. Also my retirement plan is to go back to my home country in Asia.
I know that opting out of 401k will only bump my pay by a couple hundred dollars, but I need every penny to keep up my motivation and feel a sense of progression in life. I also think giving away your money to wall street for the length of a mortgage is only enabling them to drive up asset prices at your expense.