What Is The 4% Withdrawal Rule
The 4% rule is when you withdraw 4% of your retirement savings in your first year of retirement. In subsequent years, tack on an additional 2% to adjust for inflation.
For example, if you have $1 million saved under this strategy, you would withdraw $40,000 during your first year in retirement. The second year, you would take out $40,800 . The third year, you would withdraw $41,616 , and so on.
Potential advantages: This has been a longstanding retirement withdrawal strategy. Many retirees value this strategy because its simple to follow and gives you a predictable amount of income each year.
Potential disadvantages: Lately, this approach has been criticized for not considering the effects of rising interest rates and market volatility. Indeed, if you retire at the onset of a steep stock market decline, you risk depleting your savings early.
Who Is Eligible For Coronavirus
If you, your spouse or a dependent have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you qualify for the above benefits. However, eligibility for coronavirus-related distributions extends well beyond those who have been diagnosed.
According to an IRS notice issued on June 19, qualified individuals include anyone who has encountered “adverse financial consequences” as a result of the individual, the individual’s spouse or a member of the individual’s household experiencing any of the following due to COVID-19:
Being quarantined, furloughed or laid off.
Having their hours at work cut.
Having a job offer rescinded or delayed or their income reduced.
Being unable to work because of a lack of child care.
Slashing operating hours or shutting down a business due to the outbreak.
This means that if your spouse experiences financial hardship, you may qualify for a coronavirus-related distribution from your retirement account, even if you’re still employed.
Handling A Previous 401k
You usually have a few options when it comes to handling a 401k from a former employer. These include leaving the 401k where it is, rolling it into a taxable or nontaxable Individual Retirement Account or transferring it to a 401k with your current employer and cashing it out. Of all your options, cashing out will cost you the most now and in the future. You will have to pay income taxes on the withdrawal along with a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. You’ll also lose the tax benefits offered by the 401k as a qualified retirement plan.
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Those Who Can Stomach The Loss In Stock Value
Because a 401 is an investment account, you should also consider the trade-off of missing the market rebound if you withdraw funds right now. Any money that you borrow from your 401 now wont be there when the market turns around, Renfro says. This would compound the adverse effects of an early 401 withdrawal if you dont truly need one.
Echoing that, Levine says many 401 balances have been hit hard, and taking a loan while theyre down essentially locks in the losses.
Taking an early withdrawal from your 401 can have long-term adverse effects on your financial health. However, so can the ramifications of COVID-19, especially if youve been particularly affected by the disease. The CARES Act gives options to those who need it most. Theres no right answer, but in times of uncertainty and struggle, those options can be a life raft.
If Im Eligible Should I Take A Distribution From My 401 Or Ira
Even with the new rules in place, its still advisable to exhaust most other resources, such as emergency funds or other easily accessible forms of savings, before tapping into your retirement accounts.
But if you are considering taking a distribution from your IRA or 401, think through the following first.
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How To Protect Your 401k From A Stock Market Crash 2021
Diversification, Dollar Cost Averaging, Indexing, Cash-rich Stocks, CD’s, Bank Stocks or Gold. There Are Many Strategies, But Which Are The Best?
Moving to Cash, Diversification, Dollar Cost Averaging, Indexing, Cash-rich Stocks, CDs, Bank Stocks, or Gold. There Are Many Strategies: Here is a Selection of Options To Choose From?
The total protection of your money from a market crash is impossible. However, you can minimize your risks and protect most of your investments with a few precautions. Thus, keeping most of the assets in your 401K safe in a bear market is possible. However, you must be careful not to sacrifice your portfolios ability to grow to avoid risks.
Instead, you need to balance security and growth. Fortunately, achieving such a balance is easier than most people realize.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Withdrawal Vs A 401 Loan
A withdrawal is permanent. While you won’t have to pay the money back, you will have to pay the taxes right away and possibly a penalty. Additionally, by pulling out money early, you’ll miss out on the long-term growth that a larger sum of money in your 401 would have yielded. A loan has to be paid back, but on the upside, if it is paid back in a timely manner, you at least won’t lose out on long-term growth.
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Summary: Keeping Your 401k Safe
Finally, history proves stock market crashes are rare events that long-term market gains will make up.
If you can time the market to avoid the worst of a crash, then this is a good option.
Secondly, another way to keep your 401K safe is to keep your money in the market and use dollar-cost averaging to your advantage. Notably, the stock market erased all the losses from the 2007-2008 crash by October 2012, just four years later, and if you had doubled down on your investing during the worst periods of the crash, you would have a chance to outperform the market.
- Highly Recommended Reading: Fact-Based Research of 6 Major Stock Market Crashes & What Caused Them. The Facts About The Impact of Crashes & How To Avoid & Profit From Them.
This is not specific financial advice I am not a registered financial advisor I am a market analyst. If you are concerned about your investments, seek the help of a registered financial advisor who can provide tailored advice to suit your specific risk and portfolio requirements.
If You Are Under 59 1/2
Making a withdrawal from your Fidelity 401k prior to age 60 should always be a last resort. Not only will you pay tax penalties in many cases, but youre also robbing yourself of the tremendous benefits of compound interest. This is why its so important to maintain an emergency fund to cover any short-term money needs without costing yourself extra by making a 401k early withdrawal.
However, life has a way of throwing you curveballs that might leave you with few to no other options. If you really are in a financial emergency, you can make a withdrawal in essentially the same way as a normal withdrawal. The form is filled out differently, but you can find it on Fidelitys website and request a single check or multiple scheduled payments.
If you jump the gun, though, and start making withdrawals prior to the age of 59 1/2, youve essentially broken your pact with the government to invest that money toward retirement. As such, youll pay tax penalties that can greatly reduce your nest egg before it gets to you. A 401k early withdrawal means a tax penalty of 10 percent on your withdrawal, which is on top of the normal income tax assessed on the money. If youre already earning a normal salary, your early withdrawal could easily push you into a higher tax bracket and still come with that additional penalty, making it a very pricey withdrawal.
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Rolling 401k Into Ira
When you leave an employer, you have several options for what to do with your 401k, including rolling it over into an IRA account.
Its possible to do the same thing while still working for an employer, but only if the rules governing your workplace 401k allow for it.
The negative for rolling the money into an IRA is that you cant borrow from a traditional IRA account.
Another option when you leave an employer is to simply leave the 401k account where it is until you are ready to retire. You also could transfer your old 401k into your new employers retirement account.
If you are at least 59 ½ years old, you could take a lump-sum distribution without penalty, but there would be income tax consequences.
Substantially Equal Periodic Payments
What if you’re under 55? There’s another option for taking distributions without paying the 10% penalty. Unemployed individuals can receive what is termed a substantially equal periodic payment from their 401.
Payments must be distributed over a minimum of five years or until the individual reaches age 59½, whichever is greater. There are three different methods for calculating SEPP distributions:
- Required minimum distribution
Your choice can be modified once after an election if your income needs to change. When the recipient reaches 59½, withdrawals may cease or ratchet up or down without penalty. There are no further rules until you reach 72, when required minimum distributions take effect.
Payments are typically calculated based on the life expectancy of the account holder or the combined life expectancy of the plan participant and his beneficiaries. Distributions can be taken with any frequency during the year as long as withdrawals do not exceed the pre-calculated annual value. If the amount is arbitrarily modified, the 10% penalty exception is negated and you have to pay the penalties.
You can also withdraw money from an IRA using the SEPP method. An online calculator can help you estimate what to withdraw, but this is one task that requires the help of a financial advisor to make sure you do it correctly.
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Your Retirement Money Is Safe From Creditors
Did you know that money saved in a retirement account is safe from creditors? If you are sued by debt collectors or declare bankruptcy, your 401k and IRAs cannot be liquidated by creditors to satisfy bills you owe. If youre having problems managing your debt, its better to seek alternatives other than an early withdrawal, which will also come with a high penalty.
Withdrawing From A Roth 401k
Most 401k plans involve pre-tax contributions, but some allow for Roth contributions, meaning those made after taxes already have been paid.
The benefit of making a Roth contribution to your 401k plan is that you already have paid the taxes and, when you withdraw the money, there is no tax on the amount gained as long as you meet these two provisions:
- You withdraw the money at least five years after your first contribution to the Roth account
- You are older than 59 ½ or you became disabled or the money goes to someone who is the beneficiary after your death
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Penalties For Home And Tuition Withdrawals
Under U.S. tax law, there are several other scenarios where an employer has a right, but not an obligation, to allow hardship withdrawals. These include the purchase of a principal residence, payment of tuition and other educational expenses, prevention of an eviction or foreclosure, and funeral costs.
However, in each of these situations, even if the employer does allow the withdrawal, the 401 participant who hasn’t reached age 59½ will be stuck with a sizable 10% penalty on top of paying ordinary taxes on any income. Generally, youll want to exhaust all other options before taking that kind of hit.
“In the case of education, student loans can be a better option, especially if they’re subsidized,” says Dominique Henderson, Sr., owner of DJH Capital Management, LLC, a registered investment advisory firm in Cedar Hill, Texas.
When Should You Make A 401 Early Withdrawal
Considering the 10% penalty, financial planners often advise taking an early withdrawal from your 401 as a last resort. Since penalty-free withdrawals are available for a number of financial hardships and situations, plan participants who take an early withdrawal with a penalty are often in serious financial straits.
Ive seen people take withdrawals for a number of reasons, Stiger says. Everything from a childs tuition to a spouses burial expenses the hope is that distributions are used for larger, more unexpected expenses like medical emergencies, keeping a home out of foreclosure or eviction, and in a down period, putting food on the table.
Ultimately, taking an early withdrawal can make sense if you are able to take advantage of a penalty-free exception, use the Rule of 55 or the SEPP exemption, or take advantage of a topical change in rules, such as the Covid-related changes offered in 2020 as part of the CARES Act.
It might make sense to exhaust other options firstcheck out these 10 ways to get cash nowbefore turning to your tax-deferred retirement account for an early withdrawal. And remember: Contributions to a Roth IRA can always be withdrawn without penalty if youre truly in a bind.
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Here’s How To Avoid Penalties If You Tap Into Your Retirement Savings
If you find yourself unemployed, it’s natural to think about accessing 401 funds to make ends meet. Here’s a recap on how 401 accounts work and the rules governing withdrawals, including new rules helping those impacted by economic downturns and pandemics.
I Need Emergency Funds
Removing funds from your 401 before you retire because of an immediate and heavy financial need is called a hardship withdrawal. People do this for many reasons, including:
- Unexpected medical expenses or treatments that are not covered by insurance.
- Costs related to the purchase or repair of a home, or eviction prevention.
- Tuition, educational fees and related expenses.
- Burial or funeral expenses.
The IRS is making it easier to access the funds in your 401 by amending the rules around hardship withdrawals. But hardship withdrawals are a drain on your hard-earned retirement savings, and they stunt all the growth youve previously achieved. They can even impact your ability to retire when you want.
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Should You Use Your 401 To Buy A House
There are good reasons for not using your 401 to buy a house. Even if youre comfortable with the 10% early withdrawal penalty, you will still be incurring long-term consequences by reducing your savings. That, in turn, will damage your future growth potential.
Taking out $10,000 from a $20,000 401 account, for instance, leaves you with only $10,000 that will continue accruing interest. With a 7% annualized rate of return, that $10,000 could become $54,000 over 25 years compared to $108,000 had you not withdrawn $10,000.
Withdrawing from your 401 account is essentially taking out a loan against yourself. If you want to pay it back, you also need to pay interest, and the time spent paying it back is time that could have been spent on growth.
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See If You Qualify For An Exception To The 10% Tax Penalty
Generally, the IRS will waive it if any of these situations apply to you:
You choose to receive substantially equal periodic payments. Basically, you agree to take a series of equal payments from your account. They begin after you stop working, continue for life and generally have to stay the same for at least five years or until you hit 59½ . A lot of rules apply to this option, so be sure to check with a qualified financial advisor first.
You leave your job. This works only if it happens in the year you turn 55 or later .
You have to divvy up a 401 in a divorce. If the courts qualified domestic relations order in your divorce requires cashing out a 401 to split with your ex, the withdrawal to do that might be penalty-free.
Other exceptions might get you out of the 10% penalty if you’re cashing out a 401 or making a 401 early withdrawal:
You become or are disabled.
You rolled the account over to another retirement plan .
Payments were made to your beneficiary or estate after you died.
You gave birth to a child or adopted a child during the year .
The money paid an IRS levy.
You were a victim of a disaster for which the IRS granted relief.
You overcontributed or were auto-enrolled in a 401 and want out .
You were a military reservist called to active duty.
Living With A Disability
If you become totally and permanently disabled, getting access to your retirement account early becomes easier. In this case, the government allows you to withdraw funds before age 59½ without penalty. Be prepared to prove that youre truly unable to work. Disability payments from either Social Security or an insurance carrier usually suffice, though a doctor’s confirmation of your disability is frequently required.
Keep in mind that if you are permanently disabled, you may need your 401 even more than most investors. Therefore, tapping your account should be a last resort, even if you lose the ability to work.
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