On June 29, 2011, the New York Times published the results of a New York Times/CBS News poll. Many of the questions were political in nature, but one question has caught the eye of 401(k) professionals. The question gave four possible choices for the best long-term investment. A whopping 41% of respondents answered an IRA or 401(k) plan. The IRA/401(k) plan response beat out the option of a home at 26% and the option of a savings/money market account at 22%. Only 5% of respondents selected the stock market.
As the pressure mounts to balance the federal budget and the future of tax-preferred items such as 401(k) plans is debated, it is important to remember that Americans are comfortable saving in 401(k) plans. Most
401(k) plans offer stock mutual funds, but this survey indicates that people believe that an IRA/401(k) plan is a better long-term choice than directly investing in the stock market. If the tax benefits of 401(k) plans are taken away, fewer Americans could be saving money because they are not as comfortable with other savings options.