Dear Retirement Savers: Feel No Shame When Asking for Help

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Asking for directions can be a humbling experience. Relying on others to help us reach a destination can force us to see things in a new perspective. We may realize that our current path is wrong or that others truly know more than we do. The longer we wait to admit we need help, the more we veer off course, especially when traveling toward retirement.

The reluctance to ask for help is not restricted to the road. Despite most participants saying that 401(k) plans are a “must-have” benefit from their employers, only 24 percent say they are likely to have someone help them manage their investments, according to a new survey from Charles Schwab. In comparison, 87 percent are likely to have someone change the oil in their cars.

Retirement savers need to realign their financial priorities. The average participant in the survey spent roughly the same amount of time researching and choosing investments for their 401(k) plans as they do investigating cell phones, even though retirement can last for 30 years or longer and cell phones are often traded in every year or two. Furthermore, people spend more than twice as much time researching their car purchases than they do evaluating their 401(k) investment options.

“Today, responsibility for managing their own retirement investments rests squarely on workers’ shoulders,” said Steve Anderson, head of Schwab Retirement Plan Services, in a press release. “In fact, the survey finds that nine in ten participants are relying on themselves for the money needed to live in retirement and a majority are using their 401(k) as their primary or sole source of retirement savings.”