Strategies To Maximize Your 401k Balance
A 401 is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that offers tax benefits to its investors. If your benefits package includes a 401, you may choose to contribute a portion of your salary to the account. The specialty of this plan is that your employer may even match your payments up to a certain limit which helps grow your retirement fund. Your savings are invested in various assets providing you with a source of income in retirement. If you wish to understand and learn about 401 contribution limits, tax benefits, withdrawal restrictions, and more, reach out to a professional financial advisor who can guide you on the same.
Periodic Distributions From 401
Instead of cashing out the entire 401, you may choose to receive regular distributions of income from your 401. Usually, you can choose to receive monthly or quarterly distributions, especially if inflation increases your living expenses. If the 401 is your main source of income, you should budget properly so that the distributions are enough to meet your expenses.
For example, if you have accumulated $1 million in retirement savings, you can choose to receive $3,330 every month, which amounts to approximately $40,000 annually. You can adjust the amount once a year or every few months if your 401 plan allows it. This option allows the remaining savings to continue growing over time as you take periodic distributions.
Retirement Spending Calculator Required Assumption
The second most important assumption to your retirement spending calculation is your budget requirement. Your budget determines how much you will spend each month and also determines how much money you must save to support that spending.
Conventional wisdom claims you should plan to save enough money to replace 60 percent to 80 percent of your working income in retirement. Again, this assumption is fraught with controversy.
Early retirees frequently increase spending to support an active lifestyle of travel, hobbies, and personal interests. Other retirees have much less expensive retirement interests and require less spending.
In short, rules-of-thumb are just rough guidelines. Instead, look closely at your plans for retirement before placing a spending assumption based on your actual plans in the retirement withdrawal calculator. Try to make it as accurate as possible .
Finally, don’t forget to take into consideration inflation on spending and distributions because inflation can have a dramatic, long-term, compound effect. With that said, research shows the average retiree spends roughly 25% less with each progressive decade of retirement following age 65, thus largely offsetting inflation and making a static spending estimate surprisingly reasonable.
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Retirement Withdrawal Strategies In Summary
If you dont have a retirement income strategy, YOURE PAYING WAY TOO MUCH IN TAXES!
While this can be complex in practiceand your strategy will adjust yearly as your investments and life goals fluctuatethe tax savings are MASSIVE over your retirement!
Why is the value so big for retirees? Because you can slash your lifetime taxes plain and simple.
If you coordinate your retirement withdrawal strategy across all of your investment accounts and sources of income youll save taxes and improve your retirement plan results without any additional risk. This is as close to a free lunch as youll ever find when it comes to retirement planning!
Explore Net Unrealized Appreciation
If you have company stock in your 401, you may be eligible for net unrealized appreciation treatment if the company stock portion of your 401 is distributed to a taxable bank or brokerage account, says Trace Tisler, CFP®, owner of Epic Financial LLC, a northeastern Ohio financial planning firm. When you do this, you still have to pay income tax on the stock’s original purchase price, but the capital gains tax on the appreciation of the stock will be lower.
So, instead of keeping the money in your 401 or moving it to a traditional IRA, consider moving your funds to a taxable account. This strategy can be rather complex, so it might be best to enlist the help of a pro.
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The Rules For Accessing Your Money Are Determined By Your Employer’s Plan
Whether you can take regular withdrawals from your 401 plan when you retire depends on the rules for your employers plan. Two-thirds of large 401 plans allow retired participants to withdraw money in regularly scheduled installments — say, monthly or quarterly. About the same percentage of large plans allow retirees to take partial withdrawals whenever they want, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America , a trade association for employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Other plans offer just two options: Leave the money in the plan without regular withdrawals, or take the entire amount in a lump sum. ‘s summary plan description, which lays out the rules, or call your company’s human resources office.) If those are your only choices, your best course is to roll your 401 into an IRA. That way, you won’t have to pay taxes on the money until you start taking withdrawals, and you can take money out whenever you need it or set up a regular schedule.
If your company’s 401 allows periodic withdrawals, ask about transaction fees, particularly if you plan to withdraw money frequently. About one-third of all 401 plans charge retired participants a transaction fee, averaging $52 per withdrawal, according to the PSCA.
Your Retirement Income Account
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Ways To Withdraw Your 401
There are several ways to go about withdrawing your money in retirement.
- Rollover your funds: Instead of keeping your money in a 401, you can roll it over into a new account to keep it growing in retirement with more investment options.
- Take regular distributions: You can contact the financial institution managing your 401 and set up periodic payments to give you a fixed stream of income, much like a paycheck. You can also opt to take the distribution as you need them, as long as you take out the minimum required amount.
- Purchase an annuity: You can also purchase an annuity to ensure a fixed stream of payments.
- Take a lump sum: This is often not recommended by financial experts, but you have the ability to take out the money all at once.
Which option you pick will depend on your financial situation and goals in retirement. A financial planner can help you develop a plan that fits your needs.
Whats The Order In Which I Should Tap Into My Retirement Accounts
In this case, the conventional wisdom goes that you should withdraw from your taxable accounts first, then tax-deferred, then tax-free. Thatâs because the money you take from a taxable account is likely to be taxed at the rate for capital gains or qualified dividends, which varies depending on your tax bracket. Itâs generally a lower rate than what youâd pay on ordinary income from 401 plans, traditional IRAs and other tax-deferred savings. Tapping the taxable accounts first gives the other accounts the potential to continue growing, shielded from current taxes.
âTapping taxable accounts first gives the other accounts the potential to continue growing, shielded from current taxes.â
While the guidelines for withdrawing income offer a reasonable starting point, Storey says, youâll also need to look at your unique situation. âItâs helpful to have some flexibility in the way your income might be taxed,â he says. For example, if for some reason you were going to be in a higher than usual tax bracket one year â if you realized a significant gain from selling a business but you still needed additional income, say â you might like to have the option to draw federal tax-free income from a Roth IRA.
âI worked with a couple recently who could have been receiving an additional $1,400 a month in spousal benefits for four years. That adds upâ
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Different Accounts Are Taxed Differently
The reason theres so much value in great retirement withdrawal strategies is that your accounts have different tax consequences. In fact, that very same reason is why asset LOcation is so powerful!
First, you must understand the tax implications of your savings and investment accounts. For example:
- Pre-tax accounts like IRAs and 401s force income taxes on all distributions
- Roth accounts and Roth 401s are tax-free forever
- Taxable accounts force a 1099 each year on the interest income, dividends, or capital gain distributions
Your retirement withdrawal strategy must take these tax implications into account or youre simply donating massive amounts of money to the government each year! Thats money YOU should be enjoying during retirement!
How Do You Take A Withdrawal Or Loan From Your Fidelity 401
If you’ve explored all the alternatives and decided that taking money from your retirement savings is the best option, you’ll need to submit a request for a 401 loan or withdrawal. If your retirement plan is with Fidelity, log in to NetBenefits®Log In Required to review your balances, available loan amounts, and withdrawal options. We can help guide you through the process online.
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Retire With Peace Of Mind
Your withdrawal strategy matters in retirement. It can mean the difference between having funds to last you for the rest of your life or falling short. Itâs always best to research your options thoroughly and speak to a financial advisor to come up with a plan that works for you.
* Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. , a registered broker-dealer Member FINRA/SIPC and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2018.
Convert To An Ira And Keep Contributing
You cannot contribute to a 401 after you leave your job, so if you want to continue adding money to your retirement funds, youll need to roll over your account into an IRA. Previously, you could contribute to a Roth IRA indefinitely but could not contribute to a traditional IRA after age 70½. However, under the new Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, you can now contribute to a traditional IRA for as long as you like.
Keep in mind that you can only contribute earned income, not gross income, to either type of IRA, so this strategy will only work if you have not retired completely and still earn taxable compensation, such as wages, salaries, commissions, tips, bonuses, or net income from self-employment, as the IRS puts it. You cant contribute money earned from either investments or your Social Security check, though certain types of alimony payments may qualify.
To execute a rollover of your 401, you can ask your plan administrator to distribute your savings directly to a new or existing IRA. Alternatively, you can elect to take the distribution yourself. However, in this case, you must deposit the funds into your IRA within 60 days to avoid paying taxes on the income.
Traditional 401 accounts can be rolled over into either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, whereas designated Roth 401 accounts must be rolled over into a Roth IRA.
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Caveats To The 4% Rule
Several variables can make this rule of thumb either too conservative or too risky, and you might not be able to live on 4%-ish a year unless your account has a significantly large balance.
The first caveat you should consider when thinking about applying the 4% rule to your personal situation is that it calls for putting 50% each in stocks and bonds. You may not be comfortable putting that much of your retirement assets in equities, and you may want to keep at least a portion of your nest egg in cash or a money market fund.
You also might not expect to live for 30 years after retirement, either because you retired later than most people do or for some health-related reason. And you may not feel you need the almost 100% confidence level Bengen was seeking in his rule a confidence level of 75% to 90% that you won’t run out of money might be acceptable to you and may afford a more flexible withdrawal rate.
Traditional Approach: Withdrawals From One Account At A Time
To help get a clearer picture of how this could work, let’s take a look at a hypothetical example: Joe is 62 and single. He has $200,000 in taxable accounts, $250,000 in traditional 401 accounts and IRAs, and $50,000 in a Roth IRA. He receives $25,000 per year in Social Security and has a total after-tax income need of $60,000 per year. Let’s assume a 5% annual return.
If Joe takes a traditional approach, withdrawing from one account at a time, starting with taxable, then traditional and finally Roth, his savings will last slightly more than 22 years and he will pay an estimated $69,000 in taxes throughout his retirement.
Withdrawing from one account at a time can produce a “tax bump” midway in retirement
Note that with the traditional approach, Joe hits an abrupt “tax bump” in year 8 where he pays over $5,000 in taxes for 11 years while paying nothing for the first 7 years and nothing when he starts to withdraw from his Roth account.
In this scenario, a proportional withdrawal strategy in retirement cuts taxes by almost 40%
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Top Retirement Withdrawal Strategies
As youre considering what you need for retirement, dont forget that you likely have a monthly paycheck coming in from Social Security as well. From this income you can work backward to figure out how much money you need each month.
These withdrawal strategies can help you extend your savings and meet your goals.
Common Steps To Boost Your Retirement Savings
If you consider yourself a retirement saver, these four steps will help you maintain and grow your account balances:
Maximize the company match for your retirement plan. A 2021 study from Vanguard says that roughly one-third of Americans with 401 plans are saving below their employee matches.
Some companies match employee 401 plan contributions up to a percentage of each paycheck. This means that if you are contributing 3% of a $1,500 paycheck, youll be saving $45 each pay period. And if your employer offers a 3% match, then youll double your contribution to $90 per check.
In 2022, you can contribute up to $20,500 . And matching employer-employee contributions can go up to $61,000 .
Note that the IRS may also allow you to double your contribution limit, depending on the catch-up options for your retirement plan as a teacher, government employee, healthcare or nonprofit worker.
The savers credit incentivizes eligible taxpayers to save for retirement by allowing them to claim up to 50% of their retirement plan contribution.
Individuals can qualify with an AGI under $34,000 in 2022 .
In 2022, the IRS has established a contribution limit up to $6,000 for traditional and Roth IRAs.
Roth IRAs are particularly advantageous because retirees dont have to pay taxes when making withdrawals.
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How To Avoid The Early Withdrawal Penalty
There are a few exceptions to the age 59½ minimum. The IRS offers penalty-free withdrawals under special circumstances related to death, disability, medical expenses, child support, spousal support and military active duty, says Bryan Stiger, CFP, a financial advisor at Betterments 401.
If you dont meet any of those qualifications, you arent entirely out of luck, though. Youve got a couple of options that may let you make penalty-free withdrawals, if youre slightly younger than retirement age or plan your withdrawals methodically.
If youre between age 55 and 59 ½ and you lose your job, the IRS will allow you to withdraw from your 401 plan penalty-free. This is called the Rule of 55, and it applies to everyone within this age group who loses a job, no matter whether youre fired, laid off or voluntarily quit. Stiger says. To qualify for the Rule of 55, the 401 you hope to take withdrawals from must be at the company youve just parted ways with. Note that the Rule of 55 does not apply to IRAs.
There is also the Substantially Equal Periodic Payment exemption, or an IRS Section 72 distribution, say Stiger. With SEPP you can take substantially equal payments from your 401 based on life expectancy. Unlike the Rule of 55, you may use SEPPs to tap an IRA early.
Early Withdrawals: The 401 Age 55 Rule
If you retireor lose your jobwhen you are age 55 but not yet 59½, you can avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty for taking money out of your 401. However, this only applies to the 401 from the employer that you just left. Money that is still in an earlier employers plan is not eligible for this exceptionnor is money in an IRA.
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