Whether your employer offers one or not, you should learn the basics of a 401k account. This information will come in handy if your company ever switches to a 401k plan or you change jobs and are able to invest in a 401k. These accounts give you the ability to have some control over your retirement fund, unlike pensions where the company controls the funds.
401k plans are a tax-deferred retirement savings plan. They are administered by a third party investment company, not directly through your employer. The tax advantages are that you don’t have to pay taxes on the money you put into the account until you take it out. Most people fall into a lower tax bracket once they retire, so this could potentially save you a lot of money in taxes.
If you make less than $ 110, 000 per year, you can contribute up to $ 16, 500 per year to your 401k, and the total contribution including your employer match cannot exceed $ 49, 000. The limits increase to $ 22, 000 and $ 54, 500 once you reach the age of fifty. If you make more than $ 110, 000 per year, your employer may be required to reduce the amount you can contribute so that you are not investing a higher percentage of your income than the average worker at your company.
Employer matching is offered by many companies that have 401k plans for their employees. If your employer offers matching, they will put extra money in your 401k account based on the amount you contribute. They may match contributions 100% up to a certain amount, or they may do partial matching. Some companies require the matched contributions to be put into a fund that only purchases company stock.
The funds in your 401k plan might not be fully vested immediately. This means that there might be a waiting period before the money is really considered yours. You can choose how the money in your 401k is invested, but you are limited to the options that your company makes available to you.
Depending on your company’s policies regarding their 401k plan, it may be able to take out a loan against the vested balance in your 401k. In most cases, the interest rate is very low compared to a traditional bank loan. If you do take out a loan against your 401k, you will be paying yourself back with interest. The downside is that if you lose your job before paying back the full amount, the balance will become due immediately and you will be hit with a tax penalty if you can’t pay it back at that time.
It’s good to have a little knowledge about 401k plans in case you ever work for an employer who offers them. They are becoming very popular, and you never know when your employer might decide to start offering a 401k plan to its employees.