This 401(k) Calculator estimates how much you will have saved in your 401(k) by the time you reach retirement (or after the number of years that you specify), assuming that you continue to make regular contributions every year until then. The calculator assumes a fixed rate of return, but the actual market changes from year to year. To be conservative, specify a lower rate than you would hope for in an ideal world.
The main benefit of a 401(k) is of course the employer match. It is pretty typical for a company to offer a 50% match up to 6% of your salary, the contributions are usually made pre-tax (up to the IRS limit), and interest is earned tax free. You would be hard pressed to find anything better for retirement savings, so maxing out your 401(k) is typically the first thing that financial advisors will suggest that you do when saving for retirement.
Note: This calculator does not take into account IRS contribution limits!
You will need to check the calculations to make sure you aren't over the limit.
For more information, see 401(k) at Wikipedia.com
401(k) Contribution Limits
For 2007 and 2008, the 401(k) Pre-Tax Contribution limits set by the IRS are:
Under 50 years of age: $15,500
50 years of age or older: $15,500 plus $5,000
additional catch up
After 2008, the limit is supposed to index by $500 per year to account for inflation.
The total of your contributions and the employer match would need to be below these limits. See: 401(k) Contribution Limits
Besides the IRS limits, your company may also place a limit on what you can contribute. Sometimes this will be lower than the IRS limit.
Years to Retirement - Enter the number of years that you want to make 401(k) contributions.
Starting Salary / Annual Raise - The first year of contributions is based on your starting salary, and every year after that the salary is increased by the percentage you enter in the Annual Percent Raise field.
Current 401(k) Balance - The current value of your 401(k) account. Check the market value listed on your latest statement.
Payment Frequency - The calculations are based on making regular contributions each paycheck. If you make regular withdrawals from each of your paychecks and you get your paycheck every other week, then choose bi-weekly.
Contribution - This is the yearly amount that you choose to contribute to your 401(k), specified as a percentage of your salary.
Employer Match - This is the amount your employer contributes, usually a percentage of your contribution. For example, if you contributed $1000 and your employer matches 50%, then your employer would contribute $500.
Maximum Employer Match - There is usually a limit to how much your company will match. This is often specified as a "50% match up to 6% of your salary". This usually DOES NOT mean that the maximum employer contribution is 6% of your salary. Instead, your employer's maximum contribution would be 50% of 6% of your salary (or 3% of your salary).
If you use Excel, try the 401k Calculator for Excel