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Wall Street’s $88 Billion Handout

And you thought the hundreds of billions in bailout money Wall Street got during the financial crisis was bad…

At least all that bailout money was paid back. And it didn’t come right out of your pocket in the first place.

But this $88 billion is different. It’s basically a handout. And it comes right out of your retirement savings and goes right into their pockets. Oh, and it’s not going to be paid back, either.

The easiest and most popular way to save for retirement is through an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. You can have money taken out before taxes, and your employer probably matches a certain amount of your money that goes into the plan. From that standpoint, the match you get from your employer is basically free money.

But the company that manages your 401(k) plan is basically getting a bunch of free money, too. Because you pay fees to them to “manage” your account. At a 2% annual rate, we’re talking about an $88 billion handout to these 401(k) managers.

And the thing is, you don’t really have a choice. That’s why I say it’s a handout. These 401(k) management companies charge a fee when you enter the plan, they charge you for the funds you buy, they charge you if you sell too soon, and they charge an annual management fee. And for what?

They don’t put the funds in the plan together. The funds you’re offered are probably from American Funds or Fidelity or some other big mutual fund company.

And the 401(k) company doesn’t manage those funds, either. All it does is buy the funds you want through a broker and then send you a statement every once in a while. If anyone can explain to me how that’s worth $88 billion (or more) a year, well, I’m all ears.

It’s ridiculous that they make so much money off you and your retirement savings. The 401(k) system is completely broken. Even the man who invented the 401(k) says so. “Now this monster is out of control,” Ted Benna told SmartMoney.com. “I would blow up the system and restart with something totally different.”

The Monster is Out of Control

The fact that 401(k) plans will charge you as much as 2% for a mutual fund is crazy. Especially when you can buy a Vanguard fund for a fraction of a percent. But it’s even worse than that. Sometimes a fund that your 401(k) company offers is more expensive than it should be. You could buy the very same fund through your own broker for less.

That’s just nuts. And it’s also wrong.

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