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Chapter 7. Keeping Tabs on Your Account > Where Are Your Best Sources? - Pg. 73

Keeping Tabs on Your Account 73 · Account balances--You can find out how much money you have in the plan, separated accord- ing to the various contribution sources. For example, most likely you'll have separate accounts for your pre-tax contributions, after-tax contributions, rollover amounts, and employer contribu- tions. Usually the values show your total account balance, including both contributions and in- vestment earnings. Typically, you see how much money you have in each investment fund. · Vested status--This tells you how much of your employer's contributions you own, and when you will become fully vested. · Projected balances--Some plan sponsors give you projections of your account into the future ... what you would have if you continued contributing at various rates and assuming different investment rates of return. Warning! Have you ever left a job and left behind your 401(k) account? Did you keep the plan administrator current on your address? Aban-doned accounts are a problem for plan administrators. In fact, recent studies have identified billions of dollars left in abandoned retirement programs, simply because the plan sponsor can't find the owner. They simply don't know how to find people and give them their money. They're playing with your money, so it makes sense (and dollars) for you to help them keep track of you. · Loan modeling--If loans are available, you can find out how much is available to borrow and what the payments will be. What You Need to Know to Keep Track of the Game Is the umpire keeping score right? Here's what is generally available. · Account reconciliation--This traces your account value from one accounting period to the next. Usually the period is quarterly or monthly. It shows the beginning balances, plus contributions and investment earnings, minus any payments for loans and withdrawals, which gives you the ending account balance. · Your elections--You can find out your con- tribution rates, beneficiary designation, and invest- ment choices. Depending upon your plan, your investment elections apply to current balances and investment of future contributions, or separate investment elections that apply to current account balances and future contributions. · Personal data--This shows all the personal information about you that the plan administrator needs to keep track of your account: your name, date of birth, date of hire, date of participation, address, named beneficiaries, and, annual pay. If this data information isn't correct, the plan administrator can't do his or her job properly. · Outstanding loan balances--If you have a loan, you can find out the outstanding balance. Where Are Your Best Sources? There are a few ways you can get the information you need. · IVR (Interactive Voice Response) · World Wide Web sites