Last year around this time, I wrote an article patterned after Frank Capra’s Christmas Classic It’s a Wonderful Life (see “Plan Sponsors Smile: Hooray for the 401k!” on In it, I wrote of what life would have been like for several real-life people had the 401(k) never existed. Readers gave the article such great response that I repurposed it and used it as the opening chapter in my book 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions.

I’m not the only person to sing hosannas for the 401(k). The nation is filled with many grateful employees whose employers began offering 401(k) plans as soon as they became popular in the 1980s. These folks, if not there already, are on their way to a comfortable retirement, despite the economic calamity of the late Bush/Obama era. On this journey to financial independence, these folks have learned and practiced the art of self-discipline, self-confidence and ultimately, self-endowment. No longer would their retirement benefits remain chained to a company—all the more important in an evolving economy where yesterday’s highflyer is today’s Chapter 11 filer. 

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook ( Twitter (

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