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What You Need to Know about 401(k) Plans


March 30, 2021 ( Newswire) When starting out at a new job, one of your first choices is whether you want to participate in their 401(k) plans. It is best to begin saving as soon as you can since the funds can then grow interest. But no matter your age, it is never too late to start contributing more. Understanding more about these plans can help ensure financial security during retirement.

You Have a Limit on Contributions

The amount you can put in your 401(k) plan is capped at a specific amount each year. You can check with the IRS to determine the year's limit. If you are 50 or older, the amount you can contribute by the end of each year might be higher. There are online calculators to help you determine the maximum amount to save from each pay period, so you max out the contribution. Not everyone can afford to contribute the maximum. Still, it's best to try to take advantage of your employer's match at least.

That might require cutting expenses in other areas. For example, if you have debt, there are some things you can do to reduce it. You might consider refinancing your student loans to create a new loan to free up some additional funds each month. A student loan refinance calculator lets you determine how much you'll pay. You can check your interest rate to plan better.

The Plan Has Tax Benefits

A 401(k) plan is employer-based, meaning they sponsor it. The funds you contribute are before tax, lowering your amount of taxable income. So, if you pull in $5,000 each month and put $500 toward the account, you'll only have $3,500 of taxable income. While the funds are in the account, all the interest is free of taxes as well. You will have to pay taxes on the funds when withdrawing them, but you'll likely be in a lower tax bracket by the time you have retired.

You Might Have to Pay Fees

Saving for retirement isn't always free, and the relevant fees could take up a significant percentage of your portfolio. Look at the expense ratio of each fund. These measure the operating expenses of each fund and are expressed as percentages. Make sure you do your research to find the right option for you. You might have to pay administrative fees as well. The benefits manager can give more information on the plan, especially since today's companies must disclose all the required fees.

You Can Choose Your Investments


These plans let you pick from a variety of investment vehicles. The employer will choose those that are available to employees, and you can then pick from those options how you wish to allocate the contribution. If you do not select something, the funds could go toward the default choice, a target date or money market fund. Many plans offer international and domestic stock funds, as well as domestic bond ones. You'll want to do your research when selecting the right options, so you find something that works for you.

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