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    15 Facts About 401(k) Plans You Should Know Before You Turn 30

    Your future self will seriously thank you.

    When I got my first ~adult~ job, my parents told me to make sure I enroll in a 401(k) plan. I didn't really know what it meant, and my parents — who never had 401(k)s of their own — could only explain that it was a retirement account.

    While they were correct, there's actually a lot more to it. And even though it might not be the most *exciting* topic, understanding how 401(k) plans work (especially when you're young!) could help you bulk up your retirement fund over the course of your life.

    Here are some very important things you should know about 401(k) plans:

    1. A 401(k) is an account offered through your employer, but you can still set one up if you're self-employed.

    2. You won't pay taxes on your money until you withdraw it.

    3. And, there's actually a really good reason behind the tax deferral.

    4. There are two types of accounts: a traditional 401(k) and a Roth 401(k).

    5. You can choose how much of your paycheck you want to contribute to your 401(k).

    6. The 401(k) is just the account. You can choose how you want to invest the money within your account.

    7. Your employer might give you ~free~ money for your retirement account.

    8. When you leave your job, the money in your 401(k) DOES NOT just disappear.

    9. A 401(k) is NOT the same as an IRA account.

    10. And, it's also NOT the same as a pension.

    11. The earliest you can withdraw from a 401(k) is age 59 1/2. It's possible to make a withdrawal before then, but there IS a penalty for withdrawing early.

    12. However, the penalty fee on early withdrawals can be waived under special circumstances.

    13. You CAN borrow from your 401(k) account in the form of a loan — but some financial advisors don't suggest it.

    14. There are contribution limits...but you definitely don't have to meet them.

    15. It's never too late to enroll in a 401(k) plan, but the earlier, the better.

    If this sounds like music to your ears (and bank account), check out more of our personal finance posts.