If you're hesitant about setting up a 401(k) plan -- or suspect that you're paying too much for your plan's administrative services -- consider these handbooks, both from HR Investment Consultants (800-462-0628):

· 401k Provider Directory Averages Book ($65) offers benchmarks to help business owners determine how much plan services should cost, based on the asset size and participation level of the 401(k). Other details include information about how likely small plans are to offer initial and ongoing education programs for employees. (The answer: very likely, so your plan should include them, too.)

Also useful: a breakdown of 401(k) plan costs, which reveals that for small plans (with up to 50 participants and $1 million in assets) record keeping accounts for about 20% of total costs.

· 401k Provider Directory Small Plan Guide ($85) offers a good list of 40 providers with specialized 401(k) plans aimed at serving the small-business community. This type of comparative information (which includes exhaustive breakdowns of fees and services offered) is tough to get without making a lot of phone calls. The book also includes suggested contact names at each provider.

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