A decade ago, the 2006 Pension Protection Act recognized the important behavioral finance concept of the "nudge" — the reframing of the decision-making process to subtly push the decision maker toward the optimal decision. We see this in the shift from opting-in to opting-out in modern 401(k) plan design. No longer limited to just the leading-edge, more plan sponsors have embraced this approach.

Auto-enrollment, auto-reenrollment, auto-escalation, and default investment options represent the first tip from the treasure chest of early behavioral finance research and have proven effective in increasing retirement savings rates. But you already know this. What you might not know are the four other 401(k) plan tips recent research has uncovered.

The second tip involves the concept known as "intertemporal choice." Research says people tend to make better decisions if the implementation of that decision doesn't immediately occur. One study found a 32 percent improvement in decision making by moving the delay from one to two months. Many plans require a worker to accrue a minimum number of hours before being allowed to join.

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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 FiduciaryNews.com 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 (https://www.facebook.com/christophercarosa/)and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ChrisCarosa).