Ways To Save For Retirement Besides 401k

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Roth Ira Vs Traditional Ira

HOW TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT WITHOUT A 401(K)

There are other types of IRAs, but the two biggies are the Roth and traditional IRA. The main difference between them is how taxes work:

Traditional IRA: The money you contribute may be deductible from your taxes for the year, meaning you fund the account with pretax dollars. Youll pay income taxes on money you withdraw from the account in retirement.

Roth IRA: Contributions are not deductible the account is funded with post-tax dollars. That means you get no upfront tax break as you do with the traditional IRA. The payoff comes later: Withdrawals in retirement are not taxed at all.

There are other differences as well. But for most people, choosing between the two comes down to the answer to this question:

When you retire and start drawing money from your investment accounts, do you anticipate that your tax rate will be higher than it is right now?

Not sure how to answer that question? Thats OK: Most people arent. For this reason, and the pluses outlined in the table above, you may want to lean toward the Roth.

Taxes are low right now, which means most people who qualify for a Roth are probably going to benefit from its tax rules down the road. So, youll pay taxes now when your tax rate is low, and pull the money out tax-free in retirement, dodging the higher rate you expect later.

If you believe your taxes will be lower in retirement than they are right now, taking the upfront deduction offered by a traditional IRA and pushing off taxes until later is a solid choice.

Set A Goal For Retirement Savings

If you want to turn your retirement dreams into reality, you need to see where you are today, dream of where you want to go, and make a plan to get there.

What does your happily ever after look like? Take some time to sit down with your spouse or a good friend and really think about what you want to do in retirement. Are you sitting on a beach somewhere and sipping on piña coladas? Are you spending time hanging out with your kids and grandkids? When you can see your retirement dreams in high-definition, youll be more focused and ready to do what it takes.

Our investment calclator will help you figure out how much youll need to have saved for retirement.

Invest In Your Education

If you want to advance your career, move up the ladder, or increase your earning potential, consider furthering your education.

To be sure, going back to school is a big time and financial commitment. Be prepared for a time period of uncertainty and income drop if you quit a full-time job to pursue a degree, which may require a lifestyle adjustment. But knowledge is invaluable, and theres potential for an economic return, as well. A 2014 Georgetown University economic analysis of college majors found that obtaining a graduate degree leads to a wage bump.

Investing in your education doesnt necessarily require dropping everything to go back to school, either. Pursuing an unfinished degree on a part-time basis, attending professional workshops, taking ongoing education courses, or learning a new language could also be worth your time and money, depending on your career.

Best for: Professionals in fields where an advanced degree is highly preferred or those looking to advance their career or switch careers.

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How Do Retirement Accounts Work

Retirement accounts like 401s and IRAs provide investors with a tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. Investors with traditional retirement plans pay taxes on their contributions and earnings upon withdrawal. Those with Roth plans pay taxes on contributions up-front and their money is able to grow tax-free.

Retirement plans often have tax advantages as compared to saving within a regular savings account or investing with a brokerage account. There can be other benefits to using a retirement accountsuch as an employer match in a 401but really, its the tax benefits that make them unique.

A discussion of the different types of retirement plans requires an understanding of that taxation, along with who establishes and uses each account, the rules of the plan, and ultimately, which type is best for you.

Can You Save $1 Million In An Ira

401k

So, is it possible to save $1 million in an IRA? While the answer depends on the investments you choose for the account, it’s certainly doableespecially if you start early and save consistently.

For example, if you contribute $6,000 to your IRA each year starting at age 25, you’d have about $1.2 million saved by age 65, assuming a 7% annual rate of return on your investment. However, if you wait until age 35 to start saving, you’d have less than half that amount$567,000by the time you hit age 65. This shows you just how important it is to start early.

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How To Invest Without A 401

Fortunately, you do have some alternatives if your company does not offer a 401 plan or a good one. For example, anyone with earned income can access an IRA and those with their own business even a side gig have alternatives, too.

If your employers retirement plan doesnt measure up, here are eight investing alternatives to consider:

Contributing To Your 401 Retirement Plan

Contributing to a 401 plan is traditionally done through ones employer.

Typically, the employer will automatically enroll you in a 401 that you may contribute to at your discretion.

If you are self-employed, you may enroll in a 401 plan through an online broker, such as TD Ameritrade.

If your employer offers both types of 401 accounts, then you will most likely be able to contribute to either or both at your discretion.

To reiterate, with a traditional 401, making a contribution reduces your income taxes for that year, saving you money in the short term, but the funds will be taxed when they are withdrawn.

With a Roth 401, your contributions can be made only after taxation, which costs more in the short term, but the funds will be tax free when you withdraw them.

Because of this, deciding which plan will benefit you more involves figuring out in what tax bracket you will be when you retire.

If you expect to be in a lower tax bracket upon retirement, then a traditional 401 may help you more in the long term.

You will be able to take advantage of the immediate tax break while your taxes are higher, while minimizing the portion taken out of your withdrawal once you move to a lower tax bracket.

On the other hand, a Roth 401 may be more advantageous if you expect the opposite to be true.

In that case, you can opt to bite the bullet on heavy taxation today, but avoid a higher tax burden if your tax bracket moves up.

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For Minimal Taxes In Retirement: Hsa + Roth Ira

With regular contributions to a health savings account and a Roth IRA, you can build a nice pot of tax-free retirement income. The table below outlines the key features of these accounts.

Account

You must have a high-deductible health plan to contribute.

Withdrawals for medical expenses are tax-free.

Contributions are tax-deductible.

Roth IRA

Your 2021 modified adjusted gross income must be below $140,000 as a single filer or below $208,000 as a married filer.

Qualified withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.

Contributions are not tax-deductible.

Data source: IRS.gov.

As you can see, both accounts provide tax-free income in retirement. The HSA stands out as the only retirement account that offers tax-deductible contributions, tax-deferred earnings, and tax-free withdrawals. The Roth IRA has the tax advantages on withdrawals and earnings, but the contributions are not tax-deductible.

The drawback of building your retirement nest egg with an HSA and a Roth IRA is the limit you’ll face on annual contributions. In 2021, the HSA contribution limits are $3,600 for individual coverage and $7,200 for family coverage. The Roth IRA contribution limit this year is $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older.

Understanding Your Investment Account Options

Is A Roth IRA Or 401K The Best Way To Save For Retirement?

Now that youve made the right choice in deciding to save for retirement, make sure you are investing that money wisely.

The lineup of retirement accounts is a giant bowl of alphabet soup: 401s, 403s, 457s, I.R.A.s, Roth I.R.A.s, Solo 401s and all the rest. They came into existence over the decades for specific reasons, designed to help people who couldnt get all the benefits of the other accounts. But the result is a system that leaves many confused.

The first thing you need to know is that your account options will depend in large part on where and how you work.

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Saving Beyond A 401k And Ira: 4 Other Retirement Accounts To Consider

SUMMARY: While 401 and IRA accounts may be the most popular ways to save for retirement, they are not your only options. Here are four other retirement accounts to consider.

When you think of retirement savings, an employer-sponsored 401 or traditional IRA likely comes to mind. While these are the most popular, and convenient, ways to build your nest egg, they are by no means your only options. If you find yourself without access to a 401 or wanting more diverse savings options than a basic IRA, there are many other items on the menu that are worth your consideration.

Consider A Health Savings Account

Another option to consider is a health savings account . If you have an HSA-eligible health plan, these accounts offer a number of benefits, including a tax deduction, tax-free growth potential, and tax-free withdrawals to pay for qualified medical expenseseither now or in retirement.*

After age 65, if you dont need the money for health care costs, you can take withdrawals from the account penalty-free. But, similar to a traditional IRA, taxes on contributions and earnings will be due.

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So Whats The Importance Of The Average 401k Balance

To be honest with you, knowing the average 401k balance may not be of great importance to you. Instead, its just a benchmark that will help you know if youre on the right track with your retirement savings. Its all about measuring your savings with your fellow peers and using it to analyze your own situation.

Aim To Save At Least 10% To 15% Of Your Pretax Income

5 Ways to Save for Retirement Besides a 401K

Thats what most experts recommend, and its a good starting point for your own calculations.

If you decide thats the only retirement savings math youre going to do, youll be in pretty good shape. But with just a little more effort, we can come up with a much more personalized retirement savings goal.

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Pick A Plan And Start Saving

Time is one of the most important factors when it comes to building up your retirement fund. While youre young, time is on your side. Dont let the absence of a workplace retirement plan like a 401 stand in your way. There are plenty of other retirement savings optionspick a plan and start saving and investing.

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I Think Its Better To Pay Taxes On Your Retirement Savings While You Are Working Than To Pay Later When You Are Retired

If you read any article over the past 30 years on how to save for retirement, you can pretty much guarantee that somewhere in that article, the author will tell you that you should do your best to maximize your contributions to your 401 / 403 plan if you can. The three reasons for doing so are familiar:

First, a 401 / 403 contribution represents forced savings. This is a good thing. With that being said, if you are an adult, then this should not be a big issue for you.

Second, with your 401 / 403 you receive a tax deduction on your contribution. Often you will hear or read the argument that you should save tax today while you are working and paying a higher tax rate. You should pay taxes later when you are retired and in a lower tax bracket.

Third, you may get a company match on your contribution. That company match represents free money. This is a very good thing!

Given these three positive reasons for using your company retirement savings program, whether it be a 401 or 403 or something else that is similar, why wouldnt a prudent person jump right on board?

Heres why.

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Where Can I Save For Retirement Besides A 401

Money Girl explains how you can save for retirement besides through a 401

Q. I have a 401 at work however, I cant max it out because Im considered a highly compensated employee. Whats the point of this restriction and are there other ways to save for retirement on a pre-tax basis?

A. Certain workplace retirement plans must adhere to annual discrimination rules that can limit the amount of contributions made by highly-paid employees. These rules make sure that the plan offers benefits to everyone and not just the companys highly paid executives, managers, and owners. Your contributions have been capped because lower-paid workers in your company arent participating in the 401, or are contributing a smaller percentage of their income when compared to that of higher-paid workers.

After contributing as much as you can to your 401, the next place to squirrel away money on a pre-tax basis is a traditional IRA. For 2012, you can contribute up to $5,000 .

If you have additional money to put away for retirement, you can use an annuity to invest an unlimited amount of money on a pre-tax basis. An annuity is similar to a retirement plan because you defer taxes until you make future withdrawals.

Using A Brokerage Account To Save After Maxing Out A 401

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The main reason a taxable brokerage account is a popular choice after a 401 or 403 is quite simple: flexibility. There are no income limits precluding wealthier individuals from opening an account and there arent any annual funding limitations. And unlike retirement accounts, the assets in a brokerage account can be used for any purpose at any time.

How a brokerage account works

A brokerage account can be opened at the financial institution of your choosing. To fund the account, you may choose a lump sum or schedule recurring automatic contributions from a bank. Unlike 401s or IRAs, there are no limits on how much you can save annually. You pick your investments and are only limited to the options available at the institution where you opened the account, so youll want to investigate this ahead of time. When funds are needed down the road, select which positions to sell and pay any tax due on your investment gains.

Tax treatment

Why you should consider a brokerage account

A savings account isnt the best choice for medium to long-term goals as interest wont keep pace with inflation. Especially for high-income individuals, maxing out annual 401 contributions likely wont be enough to maintain the same lifestyle in retirement. Further, if you wish to retire early, before penalty-free distributions from 401s or IRAs begin at age 59 ½, youll need other assets to bridge the gap.

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Roth And Traditional Iras

Often the first thing advisors recommend to those who don’t have an employer-sponsored 401 is opening a Roth individual retirement account, where you’d set up your own contributions with after-tax dollars.

“I love the Roth IRA for young investors,” said Tess Zigo, a certified financial planner at Emerge Wealth Strategies in Lisle, Illinois, adding that this is because young people are usually in a lower tax bracket early in their careers than they will be later.

Saving money in a Roth IRA means the funds will grow tax-free, meaning you don’t have to pay anything to withdraw the money in retirement. People using a Roth IRA can also put away a nice chunk of money each year. In 2021, the total you can save in a Roth IRA is $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older.

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Of course, there are some limits. In 2021, your modified adjusted gross income must be less than $140,000 for single filers and $208,000 for those married filing jointly in order to qualify.

If you have taxable compensation, you could also save for retirement in a traditional IRA, which allows you to defer taxes, similar to a 401. This makes sense if you are in a higher tax bracket now than you will be later. In 2021, the contribution limit for a traditional IRA is $6,000 or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older.

What If You Cant Meet Your Employer Match

If you arent yet in a position to contribute enough to meet your employers match, and thus not enough to reach the desired 15% savings rate, aim to boost your retirement contributions by 1% to 2% each year. If you opt in to do so, some companies will automatically raise your contribution rate annually, so its worth making sure you are signed up for what is called an auto-escalation feature.

Ivory Johnson, a CFP and founder of Delancey Wealth Management, recommends increasing your contribution rate as you get pay raises until you max out the limit. There is a limit to how much you can contribute annually to your 401. In 2021, the standard annual contribution limit is $19,500 for 401 plans. And those over age 50 can use catch-up contributions to add an extra $6,500 in their 401 account. Employer contributions dont count towards those specific limits.

Lynch reminds retirement savers to be strategic with the magic number they would like to contribute to their 401 before automatically trying to max it out, however.

Situations can arise where you may need to prioritize your cash savings in your emergency fund or save for a different reason, such as for a down payment on property or a vehicle, she adds. $19,500 isnt a small chunk of change.

Keep in mind that although you dont pay income taxes on the money you set aside in a 401, youll have to pay taxes later on when you eventually withdraw the funds in your nonworking years.

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