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Getting Fired? Laid Off? What About Your 401 K?

March 8th, 2010 · 1 Comment

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401kIn the past, I’ve written about what you should do first if you get fired or laid off.

Over the weekend, over at the WiseBread blog, I saw a new strategy that had never occurred to me before.

Essentially, it boils down to remembering to ask the HR folks if they’ll give you the unvested portion of your 401 (k).

A lot of companies have 401 (k) matching plans. It’s basically free money: they contribute x dollars to match every y dollars you contribute. The catch is, you have to stay with the company long enough for that to “vest.” If you leave too soon, they don’t have to make good on that money.

But if they fire you before the vesting can happen… well, that’s not your fault!

But a lot of employers are willing to give you the unvested portion of your 401(k) account if/when you’re being let go.

Especially if it’s not performance related and they just need to downsize. It’s not that big of a deal to them and in an effort to make these kinds of moves as painless as possible, there is a good shot you’ll get this money.

The worst thing that can happen? They say no.

Hmmm. I don’t know. If they’re in the saving money downsize mode, I’m not so sure they’ll be so sanguine about handing over the money.
But then again, this is one of those I suppose it can’t hurt to ask situations. I mean, they are going to give you (hopefully) some sort of severance package. So why shouldn’t the “free money” be a part of it?

Most of us, when we’re in the frenzied moment of being handed a pink slip, don’t tend to think clearly. So, make a mental note now. If you’re ever facing the proverbial firing squad, don’t forget to ask if you can take your “free money” with you.

It’s better than leaving money on the table.

And as always, if you find yourself suddenly laid off, it might be time to hire professional help.

Related posts:

  1. When NOT to Put Money in Your 401k
  2. Ask Brian – My Boss Just Got Fired
  3. The First Thing To Do When You Get Laid Off- Claim Your Intellectual Property
  4. Bulletin! What You Post Online Can Get You Fired!

Tags: Benefits · Finance · Retirement