A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that allows you to save money for retirement while deferring income taxes on savings until retirement. Investments typically consist of mutual funds that focus on stocks (including, perhaps, your company’s stock), bonds, and money from market funds or stable value investments.
It is called a “qualifying” plan because a 401(k) account is subject to rules set by the IRS. These rules include limitations on annual contributions, penalties for distributions before retirement age, and other rules that may affect your ability to access or transfer funds.
Depending on your circumstances, you can take the money from your existing retirement account and transfer it to other means without immediate tax consequences.
Annuities funded from an IRA or 401(k) account roll over to “qualifying” plans, allowing the insurance company to create an “IRA annuity” into which you can directly deposit your retirement funds. In addition, you can have your employer roll over your 401(k) funds to an annuity tax-free since there are no mandatory withholding requirements for funds directly rolled over to an annuity by an employer.
Many individuals have their retirement plan funds tied to mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. This means that the value of these retirement accounts is subject to market risks.
Transferring your qualifying plan to an annuity provides you with a tax benefit while allowing you a wide variety of indexed options, optional principle guarantees, and life and death benefits that can protect you and/or your family whether the bond and stock markets go up or down.
If you are in this category of people, you must understand your options with the key steps outlined below. After all, the decisions you make about your old 401(k) accounts could have a profound impact on your ability to achieve the retirement lifestyle you envision and other financial goals.
Step 1: Explore Your Options
Remember, the money you have left in the retirement plan from any previous employer is yours. There are four main options for what you can do with these assets. These options include:
- Leave the money in your old employer’s plan (if eligible)
- Transfer your money to a new employer’s plan (if eligible)
- Take money out of your plan
- Transfer your funds to an individual retirement account (IRA)
Each option has its considerations, which may include different costs, payment options, and other features.
Step 2: Consider Consolidating With A Rollover To An IRA
For starters, consolidating assets in one place makes it much easier to keep an eye on them. Instead of tracking multiple account statements (a previous employer’s plan may not even contact you consistently), consolidating into an IRA puts these resources in one centralized location.
This has the added benefit of helping you better track that resources are being invested with a common objective, time horizon, and risk tolerance, which may not be the case if these resources are spread across multiple plans based on the employer. This keeps your money working for a common cause.
Consolidating through a rollover can also make it easier to track your progress toward your long-term retirement goals. Whether you’re consulting with a financial advisor or working on your own, consolidating multiple retirement plans into one IRA can make it easier to track your returns, gauge the effectiveness of your current investment strategy, or even determine if changes might be necessary. in pursuit of your financial goals.
Of course, one of the most powerful benefits of rolling over to an IRA is the ability to continue to make additional contributions toward your retirement, and the ability to increase those contributions tax-deferred.
Professional Advice And Guidance
When a former employer’s plan is transferred to an IRA, you may have the ability to work with a financial advisor, depending on the institution you choose to work with, rather than make major investment decisions on your own.
Simplify The Investment Management Process
Employees frequently change jobs in today’s job market. In mid-career, it’s not uncommon to have retirement assets in multi-employer plans. Consolidation via transfer makes it much easier to continue making contributions and monitor progress.
Invest According To What Suits You
With a rollover to an IRA, you can develop a unique asset allocation strategy aligned with your long-term needs and goals, which would be more difficult to coordinate if your assets are spread out across multiple plans.
The Possibility Of More Investment Options
With some transfers, you may have access to a broader range of investment options beyond those offered by an employer plan. It should be noted that new elections may entail new and/or different costs.
Access To Potential Growth Thanks To Deferred Taxes And Compounding
An IRA can be a powerful tool for taking advantage of tax deferrals and compounding, which can help investors turn a relatively small sum into something much larger over time.
Step 3: Know The Transfer Rules
When it comes to completing a transfer, you generally have two options: a direct transfer or an indirect transfer. With a direct rollover, money from your former employer’s retirement plan is sent directly to another retirement plan or IRA. It is the less complicated of the two approaches and helps avoid the risk of incurring taxes or penalties.
With an indirect rollover, you’ll receive a check for the balance of your retirement account, with 20% held by the plan administrator for tax purposes.
In that case, you will be responsible for depositing these funds, including the 20% that was withheld (this money will have to come from other sources and will be returned to you as a tax credit at the end of the year as long as you complete the transfer within the deadline).
60 days), into a new retirement plan or IRA. If an indirect transfer is not completed within 60 days, this is equivalent to withdrawing all the money from your plan.
Take control of your future
Reaching your financial goals means taking proactive steps now to help set yourself up for success. You’ve worked hard to build up your retirement assets, so make sure your money keeps working hard for you.
Why you should avoid switching your retirement savings from a 401(k) account to an IRA?
Transferring your savings deposited in a 401(k) retirement plan to an individual retirement account (IRA) is often a financial option made by many workers. In general, there are many reasons for this, the most important being the possibility of investing the funds more freely.
However, in certain circumstances, this decision can cost you dearly. The nonprofit organization The Pew Charitable Trusts noted on this topic that switching savings from a 401(k) to an IRA can cost thousands of dollars in the long run.
Transferring funds from a 401(k) account to an IRA: a way to lose money
The reason you can lose money when transferring money from a 401(k) to an IRA has to do with mutual fund fees.
Normally, funds from 401(k) accounts are invested under the figure of “mutual funds”, which have shared shares that carry fees according to the type of investor, which is usually divided into two types:
- Private investor.
- Institutional investor.
Institutional investors, who are typically associated with employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k)s, can negotiate lower rates for each share invested.
However, when investing as a private investor, from an IRA account, the fees may be higher. Data compiled by The Pew Charitable Trusts indicates that fees could be 0.34% higher for individual investors compared to fees for institutional investors.
For its part, a typical hybrid fund in a 401(k) retirement plan is 0.19% cheaper than the same fund for individual investors with an IRA account.
It may seem like a negligible difference. However, a hypothetical calculation by The Pew Charitable Trusts indicates that 401(k) investors who rolled their funds into an IRA in 2018 have collectively lost about $980 million in one year. In 25 years, this loss would increase to $45.5 billion.
So I shouldn’t move my savings from a 401(k) to an IRA under any circumstances?
This is a decision that must be made taking several factors into account. Some of the ones you should keep in mind, according to CNBC, are the following:
1) Costs – While institutional investment fees are typically lower, not all IRA fees are more expensive than a 401(k) retirement plan. To do this, it is necessary to thoroughly investigate various investment possibilities in various funds, to get the cheapest rates.
2) Convenience – IRAs often serve as the primary savings center for all of your retirement funds, so you may want to transfer all of your savings to your IRA for convenience.
3) Flexibility – Perhaps one of the biggest issues around 401(k) plans is the lack of flexibility when it comes to withdrawing money. However, you should be aware that there are penalties if you distribute the money from your IRA account early.
4) Investment Options: Without a doubt, IRA accounts offer a much wider range when it comes to investment possibilities. 401(k) accounts, meanwhile, do not offer this advantage, at least not on their own. The investments will depend on the employer, who decides how and when to make them.
Experts agree that fees should be understood before shifting funds from 401(k) accounts to an IRA to avoid unnecessary losses.