Sunday, February 18, 2024

Is It Good To Have A 401k

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Social Security And Retirement Income

Is A 401(k) Really A Good Retirement Plan?

Even if you take Social Security at your full retirement age66 for most baby boomers, 67 for workers born in 1960 or laterit will only replace about 40% of your income. Yet financial planners often say you’ll need to replace 70% to 90% of your current income if you aim to maintain the lifestyle you enjoy today. That’s where contributing to a 401and ideally leaving the money untouched until retirementcomes in.

Withdrawing money from your 401 prior to age 59½ usually results in a 10% early withdrawal penalty , and the amount you take out is also subject to income tax. Drainingor even taking relatively modest amounts fromyour 401 before you retire can have serious consequences for your standard of living in retirement.

Iras Provide A More Diverse Range Of Investing Options

If you want to have the widest possible variety of assets, an IRAparticularly one held via an online brokeragewill provide you with the most significant alternatives. Youll have access to the complete range of assets available at the institution, including stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and more.

With a 401, youll be limited to the options accessible in that particular plan, which is often no more than a few dozen mutual funds in total. Depending on your preferences, that could be a good or a bad thing.

How Much Should You Save For Retirement

How much do you need to have saved up before you retire? The answer to that question used to be pretty straightforward. With $1 million in savings, at a 5% interest rate, you could be reasonably assured of having $50,000 in annual income by investing in long-term bonds and simply living off the income. If you saved $2 million, you could expect to have a six-figure yearly income without having to dip into principal.

Unfortunately, interest rates have been on a steady decline for roughly three decades now. Back in 1980, nominal Treasury bill rates were approximately 15%, but as of June 2021, a 30-year Treasury is yielding 1.91%. Lower bond yields have made the investing equation in retirement more difficult. It was only exacerbated by the , which complicated how individuals save enough to live off in retirement.

Read Also: Where Do I Go To Withdraw My 401k

Reasons Not To Contribute To Your 401

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One of the most common pieces of retirement advice is to max out your 401. Many people finance gurus included are convinced this is a surefire way to secure a prosperous life after work.

The truth is, contributing to a 401 isn’t for everyone. We’d like to believe in a single universally applicable panacea for retirement planning, but it simply does not exist. Everyone has a unique set of circumstances, needs and goals that will determine the appropriate course of action. In certain situations, dumping money into a 401 is imprudent.

Here are five reasons why you wouldn’t want to buy into your company’s 401 plan:

1. You don’t have an emergency fund

Everybody needs one. Before saving, spending, investing or pretty much anything that involves moving money around, start by setting up an emergency fund. In the unfortunate case of a job loss, medical emergency or other personal crisis, you’ll want to have the assets necessary to carry your family through to safety. Generally, the recommended emergency fund is equivalent to six months of income.

2. Your employer doesn’t match contributions

Unfortunately, many employers that offer a 401 plan don’t match contributions. In that case, there are often better investment strategies. Since the money you contribute to your 401 will be taxed later in life and often has limited investment options, you may want to opt for an alternative retirement savings account, such as a traditional or Roth IRA.

So How Much Should You Invest In Your 401k

Massachusetts 401K

Okay. So, while investing is highly personal and financial goals should be personalized, you are here so we can teach you to be rich. We have some advice to get you started.

How much you should actually be investing each month depends on a system we call the Ladder of Personal Finance. Check out this video, or read about the Ladder below:

1. Your employers 401k match. Each month you should be contributing as much as you need to in order to get the most out of your companys 401k match. That means if your company offers a 5% match, you should be contributing AT LEAST 5% of your monthly income to your 401k each month.

Weve already discussed the importance of this dont throw away free money and the returns from that free money.

2. Whether youre in debt. Once youve committed yourself to contributing at least the employer match for your 401k, you need to make sure you dont have any debt. Remember, if you have employee matching, you are effectively earning a 100% return on every penny you invest in your 401k that is significantly more than the interest you would save by paying down your debt.

If you dont, great! If you do, thats okay. You can check out my system on eliminating debt fast to help you.

Read Also: How To Pull Out Of 401k

Shock Waves Across America

Russia is a major exporter of crude oil, accounting for about 12% of the world’s supply. Any disruption to those exports is likely to drive prices at the pump higher for consumers, experts said.

“If Russia makes a run on Ukraine, we could see over $100 a barrel next week,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, adding that average gas prices across the U.S. are likely to hit $4 a gallon in the weeks or months to come.

“That $4 is something we haven’t seen in so long it would cause shock waves across America,” he said.

A key factor in how hard the conflict hits the economy will be how Russia responds to the U.S. sanctions that President Biden outlined Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Biden moved to cut off two Russian banks, and the state’s sovereign debt, from western financing, while individuals will also be targeted.

Russia could retaliate by halting oil and natural gas exports, DeHaan said. That would put pressure on gasoline and natural-gas prices in the U.S., which have already spiked this year.

“The world economy does depend on global energy. How does the world sanction Russia’s economy without Russia saying, ‘We’re going to take the next step for you and not export any more energy’?” he asked. “If Russia’s economy is going down the tubes, they’re going to take the global economy with it.”

Is It Good To Have A 401k And Roth Ira

Both 401 and Roth IRA investment growth is tax-deferred until retirement. This is beneficial to most participants since, once they retire, they tend to fall into a lower tax rate, which can result in significant tax savings.

Its up to you to decide whether or not to open a Roth IRA account, especially if your employer already offers a 401 plan. Experts agree that in many circumstances, having both is a good idea.

Youll need flexibility in retirement, Marshall adds, because no one knows what tax rates will be in the future, how your health will fare, or how the stock market will perform. Youll have greater flexibility when addressing unknowns if you have numerous buckets of money in diverse retirement accounts, such as a Roth IRA and 401, he says.

Greater tax-efficient withdrawals in retirement can be achieved by incorporating more flexibility into your savings approach, Marshall explains. According to Marshall, a $1 million 401 balance will only be worth $760,000 to $880,000 depending on your federal tax bracket. Thats because lump-sum 401 withdrawals are normally taxed at 22 percent or 24 percent, and when you include in state tax, you may be looking at a 30 percent tax bill, Marshall explains.

Another disadvantage of 401 plans is that participants must begin taking withdrawals, commonly known as required minimum distributions , at the age of 701/2 in order to repay the IRS for tax money owed. There is no such rule for Roth IRAs.

Read Also: What Happens To Money In 401k When You Quit

Taxable Investment Portfolio Is Key

The only thing you can count on is after-tax money youve invested or saved. This is why after maxing out your 401k, its good to open up an after-tax brokerage account. Consistently contribute a percentage of your paycheck each mont into your taxable investment portfolio.

Your goal should be to then build as many passive income streams as possible. The more passive income streams and active income streams you have, the more financially free you will be.

Challenge yourself to raise your after-tax and 401k contribution savings percent to possibly 50%. It wont be easy. But if you practice raising your savings rate by 1% a month until it hurts, youll find it easier than you think.

A straightforward way to maximum savings is to make your 401 maximum contribution automatic. Save every other paycheck for the rest of your working life.

Max out your 401k and save over 50% of your after-tax income for at least 10 years in a row. If you do, you will be financially free to do whatever you want!

Pros And Cons Of 401s

How Many Americans Have A 401k? What’s The Average Balance?

401s are a great way to save for retirement, especially if your employer has a good program. They do also have downsides that you should be aware of, though.


  • If your employer matches your contributions, its a lot of money added to your retirement you wouldnt otherwise have.
  • You can contribute high limits.
  • You can make easy contributions through automatic payroll deductions.
  • There is no upper-income restriction on contributions made with pre-tax income.
  • It may get you access to a loan by borrowing against it.
  • There is enhanced protection against creditors.
  • The plan administrator may give you investing suggestions to help grow your retirement savings.


  • Your employer may not offer a 401 or not match your contributions, making it a lot less attractive.
  • Youre a lot more limited in terms of how your savings are invested.
  • You have a lot more control over stocks, bonds, and index funds if you invest in them individually.
  • You may not have access to a Roth 401.

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How To Get The Most Out Of Your 401

Stock market volatility can erode retirement savings. If youâre close to retirement age, consider shifting your assets away from stocks to less volatile investments like bonds to protect your money from additional fluctuations. Younger savers have time to recover from losses.

While it may be tempting to stop contributing to your retirement during times of financial stress , resist the urge. You could miss out on valuable future gains if you stop putting money in. If youâre able, contribute more: Just boosting contributions a percentage point can lead to big gains over time. And if your employer offers 401 matching, take advantage of it, or else youâre leaving money on the table.

Other ways to maximize your retirement plan? Avoid withdrawing funds early . If your employer offers multiple investment options for your 401, pick funds with low fees.

If you leave your job, donât forget to roll over your 401 into an IRA â youâll have more investment options and lower fees. We have a guide here.

Some experts, like Ryan, suggest rebalancing your account, a way to manage risk by changing the makeup of your portfolio. Letâs say your retirement plan contained 60% stocks and 40% bonds. If the recent bear market shrunk the stock portion of your account to 50%, you should consider rebalancing by buying equities and selling bonds, he said.

Hess isnât so sure.

Image: Serhat Beyazkayah

Should You Open An Ira If You Already Have A 401k

Were here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey.Read moreWe develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide.We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right.Read less

Can you contribute to a 401 and IRA? The short answer is yes, its possible to have a 401 or other employer-sponsored plan at work and also make contributions to an individual retirement plan, either a traditional or a Roth.

If you have the money to do so, contributing to both 401 and IRA plans could help you fast track your retirement goals while enjoying some tax savings. But your income and filing status may affect the amounts you are allowed to contribute, in addition to the tax benefits you might see from a dual contribution strategy.

Before you ask yourself, Can I contribute to a 401 and IRA?, learn more about the guidelines and restrictions when combining these two types of accounts.

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The Wealthy Dont Use Them

If you were stuck in an elevator with a wealthy person and got to ask them how they amassed their fortune, I guarantee they wont say it came from placing a small fraction of their paycheck into a 401k, allowing someone else to manage it, and waiting until retirement to touch it.

Wealthy people take a different path, which is to invest in income-producing investments throughout their lifespan. As financial guru Grant Cardone explains, wealth is acquired by increasing your income, investing in income-producing assets, and protecting as much of your income a possible.

Put simply, wealthy people rely on three strategies . These are:

  • Consistently increasing skills, in order to increase income. Money is produced from scarce, in-demand resources, so make yourself a scare, in-demand resource.
  • Regularly moving cash into income-producing investments.
  • Knowing business and tax laws, because its important to reduce your tax liability while staying compliant with the IRS Tax Code.
  • As Tony Robbins wisely says, Success leaves clues. By this he means, you should model the people you want to be like. If youre aspiring to be financially free, then you would do well to observe how wealthy people act and use a similar approach to achieve financial freedom yourself.

    An Extremely Brief History Of The 401

    Is a 401(k) Rollover Right For You?

    The 401 retirement plan was established in 1978, gaining popularity in the 1980s. Over the years, these plans replaced many chronically underfunded pension plans, which paid a predefined retirement benefit when workers retired. Unlike pension plans, 401s have no defined benefit. The responsibility is on the worker to save. Employers work with financial institutions to manage the funds, and can contribute a âmatchâ of their own to employee savings.

    âPension plans became just too challenging for employers to manage,â said Donn Hess, senior vice president at Lockton Retirement Services.

    There are two primary benefits of 401s: long-term tax savings and potential employer matching. Contributions reduce your income, decreasing your tax burden. Earnings in 401s can build up exponentially, thanks to compound interest. You also wonât pay taxes on the investment gains.

    Savers can meet their retirement goals with the help of employer matching. Experts recommend saving 15% or more of your pre-tax income for retirement, and the average employer 401 match reached 4.7% of an employeeâs salary last year, according to Fidelity.

    If youâve been lagging behind the savings benchmark, a match can make up the difference, said Dann Ryan, certified financial planner and managing partner at Sincerus Advisory. Around 10% of employers cut matching during the pandemic, but many plan to reinstate it as soon as financially possible, based on a report by Fidelity.

    Also Check: How Much Will My 401k Be Worth In 20 Years

    What Is The Average Rate Of Return On 401k In 2021

    401 investors increase their profits in Q1, bringing 1-year-back by almost 42% For the first quarter of 2021, Mid Atlantic Trust Company 401 Benchmark produced a positive return on investment 3. Read also : How Taking Tax Deductions Can Cost You Money.69%.

    How are 401ks doing in 2021?

    The average 401 equity rose to $ 129,300 in the second quarter of 2021, up 24 percent from the same period last year. The average 403 account balance increased to a record $ 113,300, and also increased by 24 percent. The average IRA rate was $ 134,900, 21% jumping over the same period by 2020.

    What is a good rate of return on 401k 2021?

    Many retirement executives suggest that a typical 401 job generates an annual profit of 5% to 8% depending on market conditions.

    What is a good rate of return for 401k?

    What is a good 401 return rate? The average 401 return rate ranges from 5% to 8% per annum for 60 per cent of the aircraft used for financing and 40% for invested loans. In fact, this is the only ratio that investors suggest using to estimate earnings.

    These Accounts Can Be A Great Way To Save For Retirement While Giving You A Tax Break Now But Beware Of The Fees Plan Providers Charge For 401s

    When you start a new job, one of the first decisions you’ll likely make is whether to participate in the company’s 401 plan. The earlier you start saving in a 401, the better. But no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to contribute more to your account and bolster your future retirement security.

    Here are 10 things you need to know about these retirement plans.

    Also Check: How Do I Open A Roth 401k

    How Much You Should Have Saved In Your 401k By Age

    In order to determine how much one should have in his or her 401k by age 40, Ive made the following assumptions.

    * The Low End column accounts for lower maximum contribution amounts available to savers above 45.

    * The Mid End column accounts for lower maximum contribution amounts available to savers below 45.

    * The High End column accounts for savers who are under the age of 25. After the first year, one maximizes their contribution every year to their 401k plan without failure.

    * Average starting working age is 22. But you can follow the number of years working as a different guideline if you graduate later or earlier.

    * $18,000 is used as the conservative base case maximum contribution amount for ones entire working life. Hopefully the government will increase the max contribution amount over time.

    * No after tax income contribution, although more power to you if you have the disposable income to do so.

    * The rate of return assumptions are between 0% 10%.

    * Company match assumption is between 0% 3%.

    * The Low, Mid, and High columns should successfully encapsulate about 80% of all 401K contributors who max out their contributions each year. There will be those with less, and those which much, MUCH greater balances thanks to higher returns.

    * You are logical and not a knucklehead. Just by searching this topic, you are taking ownership of your retirement and are thinking ahead with an action plan.

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