Leveling Up Retirement Savings With 401ks

Yamilet Suarez
Assistant Vice President/Wealth Advisor

35% of private sector workers over the age of 22 don’t work for a company that offers a plan.*

Yamilet Suarez, Assistant Vice President/Wealth AdvisorWhether you’re excited about your first day of full-time employment or starting to count the years to your last, your retirement savings plan should be on your mind. It’s the key to ensuring whatever comes your way later in life, you’ll have the money available to pay for it, even though you’re no longer working.

Starting Early Offers A Big Advantage

Saving early and often can you speed along the road to financial independence thanks to compounding returns over time. Even if you are only saving the equivalent of your monthly latte budget early on, over time you’ll be able to build a nice nest egg without feeling like you scrimped to save for it. Delaying and trying to get your savings back on track when you are older, takes much larger deposits since you have less time to save making it a much rougher road.

401Ks Supercharge Savings

While saving on your own gets results, saving money using a retirement account can significantly amplify any deposits you make. Retirement contribution plans, like the 401k plans offered by many companies, are tax-advantaged accounts.
With traditional 401k plans, the money you put into the account is not counted as ordinary income, so it’s not taxed. This lowers your overall tax bill for each year you contribute. The amount you contribute also grows on a tax-deferred basis until the money is withdrawn, which can help your balances grow faster. When you do make withdrawals, they’ll be taxed as if they are ordinary income. Since many people have a lower tax rate in retirement than when they were working, this adds to the advantage.

The Roth Difference

Roth 401ks are a little different from traditional 401ks. Contributions to Roth accounts are made with after-tax dollars. So, your contributions offer no immediate tax advantage. However, at retirement, once the Roth 401k is rolled over to a Roth IRA, and that Roth IRA is opened for five years, no taxes are due on your accumulated savings or after that…ever…making this type of account very attractive. It is highly recommended to open and maintain a ROTH IRA account aside from your employer-sponsored ROTH 401k. By doing this, the five-year time clock is started much earlier.

Six Tips for 401K Retirement Savings Success

To get the most out of your retirement savings plan, here are some useful tips.

  1. Not all 401k plans are created equally. Get as much information from your employer as you can before investing.
  2. Say “yes” to matching. If your employer offers to match your contributions, save at least enough to earn the maximum contribution each year. It’s like free money, something you receive in addition to your salary and any bonuses.
  3. It’s okay to set and forget it. Many people really aren’t into managing investment portfolios, so most employer plans offer target-date funds. These funds allow you to select a date near your planned retirement date, whether that is in 35 years or three. The money you invest is managed in a way appropriate for your timeframe. You don’t have to make any additional decisions.
  4. Just ask. If there is something you don’t understand, ask for help. After all, it’s your money. Most employer plans have a contact person you can talk to. And, if you want a second opinion, stop by the bank, we are happy to help.
  5. Keep your eye on the prize. Retirement is a long way off, what happens in the markets or to the economy during a single day, week or even a year, is like noise when you’re investing for 15-35 years from now.
  6. Start gradually. Get used to saving by starting with an amount that is comfortable. As you earn raises or bonuses, siphon off a portion of them toward retirement. Once you are on your way, sit down with a wealth advisor to determine what you do need to save to achieve your goals.

If you lack access to a retirement account at work, work for yourself or own a business that is too small to support a 401k plan, come in and talk to us. There are several tax-advantaged accounts you can consider to help boost your retirement savings. We’re always happy to talk you through your options. Contact me at 630-844-8633.

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