An employer matching contribution to your retirement account is the closest thing out there to free money. (It’s not actually free; it’s part of your work compensation.) But you’ll forfeit this money if you do not participate. Most big employers offer matching contributions, though in different proportions (often one-to-one, up to certain limits). An employer match generates far higher returns and faster accumulation of retirement savings.
Understanding how to take full advantage of your 401(k) plan with an employer match is one of five core competencies needed to reach financial security, according to researchers at the Financial Literacy Center.