Sunday, June 2, 2013

401k's Still the Best Way to Save For Retirement

The 401k has been a golden standard for methods that employees have at their advantage for putting away retirement funds. The 401k involves setting aside part of your paycheck into a different special IRS designated 401(k) account and having your employer match your contribution. 

The advantage of the 401k, besides your employer matching to some percentage your deposit, is that it is tax deferred. At the time of deferral, the set aside money is not subject to income tax and is not included in taxable income on the employee's tax return. This means that if you set aside $10,000 from your $100,000 salary, you can report $90,000 as your income for that year. The $10,000 will be taxed only if and when you withdraw it from your account.

But of course, to find the best 401k plan includes a multitude of aspects to consider when choosing the best one. These include:

Type of Plan: A number of 401(k) plans are available to employers who wish to aid in their employees’ retirement plans: traditional, safe harbor, and SIMPLE, each with respective rules and regulations. In order to achieve tax-favored status, the plan must abide by the certain stipulations. This requires that employers familiarize themselves with the rules, to guarantee accordance

  • Traditional 401(k) plans: A traditional 401(k) plan enables eligible employees to opt for pre-tax deferrals by payroll deduction. Within this plan, employers also have the option to make contributions on the employee's behalf, either through matching contributions of elective deferrals or simply providing the deferral themselves. To ensure proper employer compliance and verify that employer contributions were not discriminatory, the employer must perform annual tests known as the ADP and ACP, or the Actual Deferral Percentage and Actual Contribution Percentage.
  • Safe harbor 401(k) plans: A safe harbor plan is similar to the traditional plan but adds on the stipulation that employer contributions must be fully vested when made. Unlike the traditional 401(k) plan, the safe harbor plan is not subject to the ADP and ACP.
  • SIMPLE 401(k) plans: The SIMPLE plan was created to suit the needs of small businesses by providing the framework for an effective, cost-efficient option for retirement benefits. Like the safe harbor plan the SIMPLE plan does not require the ADP and ACP test, and the employer must make fully vested contributions. The plan is only available for employers with 100 or fewer employees who received a minimum of $5,000 in compensation within the past calendar year.

Insurance: Whether the plan has an account, contract, or policy with an insurance company to provide protection such as guaranteed investment contracts.

Type of Plan: Single-employer plans, multiple-employer plans, and direct filing entities all have different implications, benefits, and perks.

Fees: Different fees can seriously stunt growth, even if they exist at small percentages. For example, consider an employee who has a 401(k) account balance of $25,000 and 35 years until retirement. If returns continue over the next 35 years and 7% fees reduce average returns by 0.5%, the account balance will reach $227,000 by time of retirement, even without further account contributions. If the fees and expenses are just 1% higher, at 1.5%, the account balance will only reach $163,000 given the same circumstances. This 1% fee difference reduced the effective balance by 28%.

For a more in depth guide, visit FindTheBest’s guide to understanding 401k plans. FindTheBest also has comparisons for mortgage rates by state and registered investment advisors (RIAs).


1 comment:

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