How to Contribute to Your 401(k)

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF® | Reviewed by Editorial Team

Updated on December 13, 2022

Methods of Contributing to Your 401(k)

If you work for an employer that offers a 401(k) plan to its employees, then you can call your human resources department to find out what you need to do in order to be able to contribute to your 401(k) plan. They will most likely send you either a form to fill out or (more likely) a link to a webpage where you can enroll in the plan, enter how much you would like to contribute and which investment options you wish to use in the plan.

From that point on, the portion of your pay that you specified will automatically be taken out of each paycheck and invested in the plan according to your directions. This will continue until you either modify your contribution parameters or leave your employer. Your plan administrator can also tell you how to make contributions into the plan if your HR department or officer can't be reached.

How to Roll Over 401(k) to New Employer

If you have recently switched employers and left your previous 401(k) plan with your previous employer, then you may be able to roll your entire plan into your new employer's 401(k) plan, provided that the new plan allows for rollover contributions (which most of them do). You will have to fill out a transfer form from your new employer's plan and submit it to your new plan's administrator or your HR department.

The plan administrator will then send the transfer request to your previous employer's plan administrator and they will either send you a check or else transfer the plan balance directly into your new plan. Of course, the transfer has to be made in cash, so you'll have to allocate that money among the investment choices in your new plan once the money arrives. If you get a check, be sure to deposit it into your new plan within 60 days so that you aren't taxed and penalized on your plan balance.

How to Contribute to Your 401(k) FAQs

How do I contribute to a 401(k)?

A 401(k) must be set up through your employer. Once set up, you may opt to have a portion of your paycheck automatically contribute to your 401(k) plan.

What does 401(k) mean?

A 401(k) is technically a section on the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) code.

What is the difference between a pension and a 401(k)?

A pension is funded by your employer, whereas a 401(k) is funded by an employee.

How do most investors contribute to their 401(k)s?

The main way of adding new funds to your account is to contribute a portion of your own income directly.

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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