We’ve all sat in those boring 401(k) education sessions—some ofus on both sides of the perpetual PowerPoint. It's the same-old,same-old: “Saving is good, saving is great. Hurry up before it'stoo late.”

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Snore.

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No matter how compelling the math, it's still math. That meansit puts people to sleep. Just like eating healthy and exercise,they recognize saving for their retirement is the smart thing todo, but why do today what they can put off 'til tomorrow?

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Here's the dirty little secret: In an era of instantgratification, diet, exercise and saving for retirement all takemonths, even years, to yield meaningful results. And that justdoesn't sell in our (now three-second) sound-bite world. Peoplewant to see results now, today, right away; heck, even before youleave the room. Anything less and you, the speaker, the presenter,the teacher, lose to the sandman.

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What's the secret to convincing sir-snores-a-lot to becomesir-saves-a-lot? In a word, “greed.” Nothing motivates people likegreed. (Lord knows we’ve tried fear—as in, “save now or retire to ahomeless shelter—ad infinitum.) Appealing to today's greed is muchmore effective than trying to scare someone with a decades-from-nowscenario. It's important that 401(k) education programs recognizethis.

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Here's how: Ask current and potential 401(k) plan participantsif they’d like an instant raise. Not one that takes effect at thebeginning of the New Year or next quarter, but one that's effectiveimmediately. Chances are, if the blood is circulating properly, allwill answer with a resounding “yes!”

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But don't stop there. Ask them if they’d prefer to givethemselves the raise rather than getting their boss to approve it.Again, anyone able to fog up a mirror likely will answer, “Youbetcha!”

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Since you’re on a roll, ask one final question: “Who wants togive themselves a raise right now?” As you see all hands ready,pass out the deferral forms and begin explaining 401(k)contributions not in terms of “saving” but in terms of “how big ofa raise do you want?” You, for every dollar saved in a 401(k) plan(or any tax deferred vehicle for that matter), you decrease theamount of taxes due today; hence, you end up netting more take-homepay.

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For example, someone earning $25,000, based on single taxpayertables, pays $1,808/year in taxes, making their net take-home payequal to $23,192. If that same person deferred just 5 percent oftheir salary into a retirement plan, their taxes go down to $1,620,raising their net take-home pay equal to $23,380—or $188 “raise”compared to someone saving nothing in a tax deferred retirementplan. The raise gets larger as your deferral rate and salaryincrease. Someone who works for $45,000 per year and saves 10percent annually gets a “raise” of $3,824. Similarly, someoneearning $65,000 and saving $10, 473. That's a lot of “found”money.

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And you can take that to the bank.

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