Chances are you wind up with about what you put in, at best. Forget the imaginary "returns" or "employer matches." It was all a bunch of hogwash.
For investors who haven't been paying attention, the disclosures will be all the more startling. AARP recently asked 800 workers with 401(k)s what they thought they paid in fees. A stunning 70% responded that they weren't being charged anything. That figure is more believable when you consider that the typical 401(k) investor is the opposite of a day-trading CNBC junkie: He or she is 45, has an average of $60,000 in his or her account, and has little investing experience outside of retirement savings.
Sure the "investor" has that much money in one. These "investors" have utterly no clue how much they would need in these "accounts" to be able to get what I get in a very small monthly pension. It is astronomical, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars when figuring in the increases after the third year of the pension.
Of course mine was actually deferred compensation, but it is a hell of a lot better than those junk defined contribution plans which weren't originally designed to BE retirement plans.