Are you doing the right things?

You are if you can say yes to these four questions about your investing and money-management habits. If not, you have some work to do.

Are you maxing out your 401(k)?
Assumes starting salary of $40,000, 4% annual raises, 10% contribution and 8% annual returns. Source: MONEY research
Are you maxing out your 401(k)?
I know you've heard plenty of times that you have to fund your 401(k). But let me be clear about this. Maxing out your 401(k) is the single surest thing you can do to put yourself on track to a prosperous retirement. A 401(k) gives you the biggest bang for every buck you save, so if you are not making maximum use of yours, you're not really serious about retirement.

To begin with, you get an upfront tax break on the money you contribute to a 401(k). The most you can sock away in pretax dollars this year is $15,500, or $20,500 if you're 50 or older. Because your employer likely kicks in matching funds (typically half of what you contribute up to 6 percent of your salary), you're effectively starting off with a 50% return on your investment. And you pay no taxes on your earnings until you withdraw the money.

If all of that isn't lure enough, think about the convenience: Your 401(k) contributions flow directly from your paycheck, eliminating the natural tendency to spend your money before you can save it.
401(k) Chart Progress More Tax Breaks Safety Net
4 steps for boosting returns and reducing risk. (more)
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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.