Table of Contents Hide
- What is 401(K)?
- Why 401(k)?
- Are there Types of 401(K) Investment?
- Fund Types Offered in 401(k)s
- Should You Invest in 401(k)?
- When Should I Invest?
- How Much should you Invest?
- What are the Benefits of 401k Plan?
- Are there Drawbacks?
- Are there still more about 401(k) that is worth knowing?
Saving for retirement is a wise thing to do while you’re still working. Most new employees think that saving for retirement is a bit too early, but actually, it is not.
This is because you’ll have more time to save and get more benefits that you might not get if you decide to wait until your retirement.
So, the question now is, How do you go about it?
I know you might have thought of that too, that’s why I have decided to help you out by giving you detailed information about one of the best retirement saving plans- the 401(k) plan.
Although there’re numerous saving retirement plans, 401(k) is one of the best and common options most employers use.
The major challenge of 401(k) is that it has so many options, unfamiliar terms, stipulations, and rules which makes it mystifying even to financially savvy savers.
This article will help make this challenge a walk-over because you will learn everything about 401k including why it’s beneficial you invest in it.
So, I implore you carefully read this article word to word without skimming to avoid missing any point. I’ve also put down a table of content above to help you with easy navigation.
Check this out!
Now, let’s start!
What is 401(K)?
A 401(k) is a lifetime savings plan that employers provide to their workers. These investment accounts are developed and operated by financial management companies that the employer has partnered with.
Similarly, it’s known as a straightforward government program that directs pre-tax dollars from the employer into a retirement savings plan.
Oftentimes, 401(k) plans are highly structured by the company and only encourage employees like you to spend a certain amount of money-saving for their retirements.
There are so many reasons investing in 401k serves as a wise thing to do. First, there are matching funds attached to the investment. This matching fund ensures that your employer also contributes to the saving.
Usually, the match would be worth 50 percent to 100 percent of your contributions, up to a cap of 3 percent to 6 percent of your annual income. If your employer gives you this free money, you can take advantage of it.
Another significant advantage of the 401(k) is that it helps you to save a significant amount of money for retirement in a tax-advantaged manner.
For the tax year 2020, the annual contribution cap is $19,500, with an additional $6,500 permitted as a catch-up contribution per year for participants age 50 and over.
Are there Types of 401(K) Investment?
Sure, there are two major types of 401(K) investments: A Roth and A traditional 401k.
- A Roth 401(k): This is one type of 401 (k) commonly used by most employers. Your contributions are made after taxes, but distributions in retirement are not taxed as income. That means your investment earnings grow federally tax-free.
- A Traditional 401(k): Your contributions are made pre-tax, and they and your investment earnings grow tax-deferred. You’ll be taxed on distributions in retirement.
Fund Types Offered in 401(k)s
Just like there are different types of 401(k) so also are the funds offered. There are basically 6 fund types available in 401(k)s. They include:
- Mutual Funds
- Conservative Fund
- Value Fund
- Balanced Fund
- Aggressive Growth Fund
- Specialized Funds
Mutual funds are the most popular investment option in 401(k) programs, though some are beginning to include exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Mutual funds range from conservative to aggressive, with a wide range of ratings in between.
Balanced, value and moderate funds are examples of mutual funds. Many of the big financial institutions use the common language.
This fund form only invests in high-quality bonds and other safe assets. Your money will grow steadily and predictably here, and you will almost never lose it.
This fund is in the center of the risk spectrum and primarily invests in strong, profitable businesses that are undervalued. These undervalued companies usually pay dividends but are expected to expand slowly.
You can select a target-date fund based on your planned retirement date to optimize your investment at that time. It’s not a bad plan. When the fund approaches its target-date date, investments move to the more conservative end of the investment continuum.
Keep an eye out for fees when using these funds. Some are significantly higher than the national average.
A balanced fund may include a few riskier equities in addition to a mix of mostly value stocks and safe bonds, or vice versa. The word “moderate” refers to the investment holdings’ moderate level of risk.
Aggressive Growth Fund
Aggressive Growth Fund is still on the lookout for the next Apple (AAPL), but it might end up finding the next Enron instead. You may become wealthy quickly or poor quickly. In reality, the fund’s value can fluctuate wildly over time.
How does 401k works?
401(K) investment is a highly diversified form of investing. The major drawback is that it doesn’t allow investors to pick individual stocks. That means, investors get stuck with an average rate of return of whatever the market is or less.
Also, it is focused on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.
Now the big question is…..
Should You Invest in 401(k)?
Well, 401(k) is worth investing in, only that it is important that before you make that decision, you consider these two options:
First, if your employer is ready make it a match contribution. With that, the free money you get for he or she would serve as an encouraging tool.
Secondly, if the plan will allow you to invest in ETFs and mutual funds. If it’s possible, then you can easily take the money out and put it into a regular IRA of your own and then invest it on your own.
When Should I Invest?
Actually, you may think that you don’t necessarily need 401(k) now because you just got a job recently and retirement is still very far. The truth is, with the tax benefit and incentives from your employer now this investment is worth going for.
How Much should you Invest?
To start, you make a minimum payment which qualifies you for the full match from your employer. And when you make the full yearly contribution, you get the full tax savings.
Recently, most employers contribute a little less than 50 cents for each dollar put in by the employee, up to 6% of salary. That’s a salary bonus of nearly 3%.
In addition, you are effectively reducing your federal taxable income by the amount you contribute to the plan.
Also, as retirement approaches, you may be able to start stashing away a greater percentage of your income. Granted, the time horizon isn’t as distant, but the dollar amount is probably far larger than in your earlier years, given inflation and salary growth.
Now, if you’re about retiring, with a 401(k) investment, you can reduce your marginal tax rate by contributing to your company’s 401(k) plan. And when you retire, your tax rate may drop, allowing you to withdraw these funds at a lower tax rate.
What are the Benefits of 401k Plan?
Having a wonderful retirement experience won’t come by magic. It requires effective planning which starts with putting money asides monthly while you still work.
And one of the best ways to do that is to take advantage of your organization’s retirement plan available.
If your organization uses 401k plans, lucky are you because the 401k plan has mouth-watery benefits that are rarely found.
Some of them include:
- Tax advantages. The contributions are pre-tax, it lowers your total taxable income which means you might owe less in income taxes.
- This plan gives you charge over your savings. That means you can contribute as much or as little as you want.
- It has a compound interest.
- You still have access to your money even if you change job.
Are there Drawbacks?
Even with the numerous benefits employees get from the 401k investing plan, there are still drawbacks this plan option came with. Some of them include:
- 401k investing plan is time-consuming and difficult.
- It is an expensive employee benefit because it involves many compliance issues that have to be monitored and constant service.
- The value of this plan is based on the concept of dollar-cost averaging, but that’s not always a reliable theory.
Are there still more about 401(k) that is worth knowing?
Yep. A few things, actually.
Once you contribute to a 401(k), you should consider that money locked up for retirement. In general, distributions prior to age 59½ will be hit with a 10% penalty and income taxes.
If you leave a job, you can roll your 401(k) into an IRA at an online brokerage or Robo-advisor. This can give you more control over your account and allow you to access a larger investment selection.
401(k)s typically force you to begin taking distributions — called required minimum distributions, or RMDs — at age 70½ or when you retire, whichever is later. You may be able to roll a Roth 401(k) into a Roth IRA to avoid RMDs.