It is one of the basic laws of personal finance: Fund traditional 401(k) accounts with enough money to get a full employer match - if one is offered.

"A match trumps all, given that it's effectively an instantaneous 100% or 50% return on the contribution, depending on the match ratio," says Michael Kitces, partner and director of research at Pinnacle Advisory Group in Columbia, Md. If a client with a $200,000 salary is offered a 50% match on the first 6% of pay, for example, the client should contribute at least $12,000 to the 401(k) to get the $6,000 employer contribution.

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