How to Change Your 401(k) Contributions

Make sure your 401(k) contribution fits your retirement needs.

Make sure your 401(k) contribution fits your retirement needs.

Changing the amount of your 401(k) contribution is usually a fairly easy task. Policies and procedures vary from employer to employer and may affect when and how often you can change your contribution amount. In many cases, you can review and change allocations or total contribution online at the website of your employer's 401k plan administrator.

Talk with your human resource department or a financial adviser with your company's retirement fund to determine the amount you'd like to contribute. Your company may have an imposed minimum or limit that you can contribute.

Determine how your company manages changes to your 401k contributions. In some cases, you will file your request for a change with your employer; in other instances, you make the request through the company that administers your employer's 401k plan. Most companies that administer 401k plans have an online fund management site that you can access remotely. If you don't know the website address, check with your human resource department.

Review your current contributions and allocation detail. If you can access your information online, compare the online balance to the amounts that have been deducted from your paychecks to ensure all of your contribution has been accounted for. If you need go through human resources, check their amount with your paycheck deductions.

Fill out the necessary paperwork through your company's human resources department to change your amount, or change your contribution amount through the plan administrator. You may need to download and fill out a form, or you may be able to make the change online; follow the plan administrator's instructions.

Review your next paycheck to make sure the contribution amount matches the change you made. If you see any errors, talk with your human resource department to correct the mistake. It may take up to several weeks for the contribution change to take effect.


  • Note that the maximum contribution to a 401(k) plan may increase; check to see what the latest limits are. As of time of publication, the maximum contribution allowed was $17,000 per year, or $22,500 for individuals 50 and older.


  • Be aware that lowering the amount you contribute could have a drastic effect on your retirement balance. Always talk with a financial advisor or your human resources department to choose the contribution amount that fits your retirement goals.

About the Author

Lisa Carlson works as an associate director of recruitment and graduate programs at a public university, and has experience in management, marketing, personal finance and nonprofit organizations. She is a peer-reviewed author on publications for higher education recruiting and holds a B.S. in marketing and a M.B.A.

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