Contact Us
Firm Overview
Why Legend Is Different
Client Types
Professional Biographies
Frequently & Rarely Asked Questions
Risk Spectrum
Investment Strategies
Second Opinion
Global Investment Pulse
Event Calendar
Press Center
Legend News
Clients Only
Career Opportunities
Directions
Newsletter Sign-up
Site Search
Site Map
Home
Tell A Friend About This Website
 
 
 
Informational Booklets   
Phone: (412) 635-9210
  (888) 236-5960
Connect With Legend:
Subscribe to me on YouTube

Do You Know The Basics Of 401(k) Retirement Plans?

How much do you know about your 401(k) plan?  Often, even though employer-sponsored retirement plans may make up the bulk of employees’ retirement savings, participants understand less than they need to about how this savings vehicle works.  Here’s a primer covering 10 crucial facts:

1.  You benefit from tax-favored treatment.  For starters, contributions to your account are made on a pre-tax basis.  For example, if you earn $100,000 a year and elect to defer $10,000 to the plan, you’re taxed on only $90,000.  What’s more, the money you’ve contributed will grow, without taxes, inside the plan until you withdraw it.

2.  There’s an annual limit on how much you can contribute.  The normal ceiling, adjusted each year for inflation, remains $17,500 for 2014.  Plus, you can sock away an extra $5,500 a year (also adjusted for inflation) if you’re age 50 or older.  That adds up to as much as $23,000 for 2014.  However, other tax law limits could affect your overall contribution.

3.  Your employer may choose to match part of your contribution.  Obviously, you’re reducing your take-home pay when you defer part of your salary, but companies often help offset that deduction.  You might get a matching contribution with your employer kicking in, say, 50 cents for each dollar you put in for up to 6% of your pay.  If you earn $100,000 and contribute $10,000 annually, that could add an extra $3,000 to your account each year (half of the first 6% of salary that you contribute).

4.  Participation may be automatic.  Increasingly, employers use an automatic enrollment feature that adds you to its 401(k) plan unless you opt not to participate.  That encourages you to save for retirement and helps companies avoid penalties that may be applied if too few lower-paid employees sign up.  The initial default-deferred amount might be 3% of your salary, and some companies now add an “escalator clause” that automatically increases later deferrals.

5.  You have a wide array of investment choices.  How should you invest the funds in your 401(k)?  You’ll normally be able to choose from among a dozen or more standard options that may include several “target date” mutual funds, which adjust their allocations as you get nearer to retirement.  If you don’t make your own selections, a default option may be triggered.

6.  You’re penalized if you take out money early.  You’ll generally have to pay a 10% penalty on withdrawals you make prior to age 59½, unless a special tax law exception applies.  That’s in addition to the regular income tax that applies to all withdrawals.

7.  You’re penalized if you take out money too late.  You must begin taking “required minimum distributions” (RMDs) from your 401(k), based on life expectancy tables, in the year after the year in which you turn age 70½.  The penalty for not doing that is stiff—50% of the amount you should have taken.  But you may be able to postpone RMDs if you’re still working full-time and you own less than 5% of your employer.

8.  You may be able to “Rothify.”  Some company plans now offer the opportunity to use a Roth 401(k).  Just as with a Roth IRA, you make contributions on an after-tax basis, but withdrawals during retirement normally won’t be taxed.  At companies that offer this option, you can divide your contribution between regular and Roth accounts as you choose.

9.  You have several options when you leave the company.  When you leave your job, you can take a lump-sum payout from your account—which will trigger income tax and a penalty if you’re under 59½—leave the money where it is, or roll it over to another company’s plan or to an IRA.  With a rollover, you won’t owe any tax as long as the transfer is completed within 60 days of leaving.  To avoid 10% withholding, make a trustee-to-trustee rollover.

10.  You’ll owe fees that may vary widely from plan to plan.  If your 401(k) charges high administrative or investment management fees, those could siphon off a significant portion of your investment earnings.  The lower the “expense ratio” of the mutual funds you select, the less you’ll pay in fees.  Index funds that passively track market benchmarks can be especially inexpensive.

Make sure you have all of the information you need to make smart choices about your account.



INDEX
  • 17 Year-End Moves That Can Preserve Your Tax Benefits
  • How Now, Dow Jones Industrials?
  • ETFs Can Provide Some Other-Worldly Benefits To Investors
  • Trust As IRA Beneficiary: Not Crazy
  • Should You Fly Solo In Your Own 401(k) Plan?
  • Swap Munis To Your Tax Advantage
  • Sowing Tax Seeds For Capital Gains
  • With Fed's Mission Accomplished, Expect Rate Hikes And Low Bond Returns
  • Five Tax-Smart Ways To Transfer Your Wealth
  • Easier Rules On IRA Rollover Waivers
  • 4 Year-End Strategies For Investors
  • 6 Common Medicare Myths That Should Be Dispelled
  • 5 Key Documents In An Estate Plan
  • 10 Sensible Stock Market Strategies After A Fall
  • Be Aware Of Your Tax Surroundings
  • 4 Good Ways You Could Use An RMD
  • Take Early Withdrawals Penalty-Free
  • Life Insurance In Your Plan? Maybe
  • A New Direction For Your 401(k)?
  • Could Estate Tax Repeal Or Reform Become A Reality?
  • Taking Aim At Target Date Funds
  • Here's What You Can't Do In An IRA
  • 6 Common Estate Planning Myths: Here's The Reality
  • A Plunge, Snap Back, And A Goldilocks Economy
  • How To Avoid Emotional Portfolio Withdrawals
  • When To Harvest Gains, When To Harvest Losses
  • Are You Flying Below The Tax Radar?
  • Slice Through 7 Layers Of Taxes For Investors
  • Stay Focused On The Need For Tax-Aware Investing
  • 14 Sure-Fire Midyear Tax Planning Moves In '14
  • Beware The NII Surtax On Trusts
  • Do You Know The Basics Of 401(k) Retirement Plans?
  • 2014 Global Forecast Offers Hope Bull Market Can Spread
  • For Charitable Trusts, The Tax Icing On The Cake
  • 6 Bad Money Habits For You To Avoid
  • Want To Shift Income? Give It Away
  • Avoid Squabbling Over Your Estate
  • Wall Street Gurus Miss Again On Sector Predictions
  • Dust Off Life Insurance Policies
  • New Law Poses Tax Risks For High-Income Investors
  • How To Choose Trustees For Your Trust
  • Pros and Cons Of Section 529 Plans
  • 7 Major Tax Changes In The Fiscal Cliff Law
  • ''Ghost Story'' Can Haunt Your IRA
  • Who's Going To Pay The 3.8% Medicare Surtax?
  • New 3.8% Medicare Surtax Spurs Year-End Action
  • Selling Short And ''Short Sales Against The Box''
  • The Real Impact On US Markets Of A Greek Default
  • How Important Is The Debt Level To Future U.S. Economic Health?
  • New Study Shows Future Impact Of Great Recession
  • Commercial Real Estate May Boost Your Portfolio
  • If You Must Tap Your IRA Early, Know SEPP Rules
  • Get Up To Speed On Estate Planning
  • What Is A Will, And Do You Really Need One?
  • When Are Two Trustees Better Than One?
  • Money Market Funds Should Shrug Off U.S. Downgrade
  • What The Tax Act Means To Investors
  • Children In College Need A Health Proxy
  • The Tax Fallout From The Healthcare Reform Law
  • How A Solo 401(k) Plan Provides You With An Edge
  • Roth IRA Fall-Back: Re-Characterizing
  • Being An Informed Donor: The Realities Of Charity
  • Donor-Advised Funds Gain In Recession
  • Don't Miss Out On The Zero Capital Gains Rate
  • Finding Hidden Treasures In The New Pension Law
  • Ease Pressure On Loved Ones With Tax-Free Gifts
  • Seven Tax-Saving Moves To Make Right Now
  • Roth IRA Conversion Rule Changes Offer Opportunity
  • Nine Estate Planning Mistakes To Avoid
  • One Way To Reduce The Tax On Real Estate Gains
  • Working Longer To Fix The Retirement Mess
  • Tough Times May Turn 401(k)s Discriminatory
  • You Should Find A New Home For An Orphan 401(k)
  • Low Rates Give Estate Planning A Boost
  • Marriage Doesn't Mean Owning All Your Assets Jointly
  • Do The Math Before Refinancing Your Home
  • As Nursing Home Care Claims Drop, Home-Care Claims Rise
  • Making The Best Of A Bad Time For The Economy
  • Regulatory Guidelines Update
  • Beware Of Social Security Identity Theft
  • Free Credit Reports Available Online
  • Don't Forget About Roth 401(k)
  • Understanding the Importance of a Fiduciary Standard
  • Energy Systems Scale and Timeline
  • The Oil Patch Profit Squeeze
  • Timber As A Liquid Investment
  • Emerging Market Food Consumption Growth Equals Rising Prices
  • Timber Facts
  • Ethanol: Salvation or Panacea?
  • Emerging Market Food Consumption Growth Equals Rising Prices
  • Bank Loan Funds - A Primer
  • A Primer On Managed Futures
  • REITS: A Very Good Portfolio Diversifier, But Should You Invest In Them?
  • Does Investing Internationally Still Diversify Your Portfolio?
  • Another Way To View The Current Valuation Of REIT Sector
  • Understanding Risk-Preparing For The Unseen
  • How Volatile Can The Stock Market Be?
  • What Is Shorting Expense?
  • How Dangerous Is A Dollar Crash?
  • The Case For Industrial Metals
  • GMO 7-Year Asset Class Return Forecast Is Bleak
  • Too Many ''Phish'' In The Sea
  • Identity Theft In The New Year
  • Ways To Improve The Score
  • Know The Score
  • Total Credit Market Debt (All Sectors) As % Of U.S. GDP
  • To Reinvest Or Not To Reinvest
  • Why Not Alternative Fixed Income Investments?
  • Just How Expensive Is The Market?
  • Beware of Brokerage Firms' Misconduct
  • Identity Theft : Correct Those Credit Reporting Errors
  • Risk-Controlled Investing
  • Q & A With Robert Arnott
  • Identity Theft : Applying For Credit? Better Check Your Credit Report First
  • Identity Theft: Everyday Prevention
  • Identity Theft: Help Is On Its Way
  • Identity Theft: Tips to Protect Yourself
  • Identity Theft: What Documents Should You Shred Or Store?
  • Identity Theft : Don't Fall For That E-Mail!
  • Identity Theft : One More Reason To Protect Your Credit
  • Identity Theft: A Note About Social Security Numbers
  • What Do Rising Interest Rates Mean For Money Market Yields?
  • Section 529 Plans Are Popular But Not The Only Way To Go
  • The Importance Of Commodities In A Portfolio
  • A Tale Of Two Hedges
  • Bank Loan Funds: A Great Fixed Income Investment As Interest Rates Rise
  • REITs: A Great Diversification Investment
  • What Is Risk?
  • How To Find A Great Financial Advisor?
  • Is It Time To Find A New Financial Advisor?
  • Year-End Tax Planning Can Help Generate High Return On Investment
  • 4 Steps To A More Secure Investment Portfolio For Your Retirement
  • Medical Practice Succession Planning: Developing A Plan
  • Traditional Investing May Decrease Your Retirement Lifestyle
  • Understanding Deflation
  • Medical Practices Receive Temporary Depreciation Bonus
  • Is Your 401(k) Plan A Failure?
  • Tax Issues To Consider When Buying A Long-Term-Care Policy
  • The ERISA Retirement Plan Law Spells Out Fiduciary Issues
  • Evaluating The Quality Of A Company's Earnings
  • Investing In Times Of Uncertainty And Risk: The Importance Of Diversification
  • Yesterday's Great Companies
  • 2001 Tax Relief Act Changes Education Planning
  • A Retirement Plan Primer After The 2001 Tax Act
  • Beware Of Common Home Repair Scams
  • Custodial Accounts: One Way To Make Gifts To Children
  • Estate Taxes To Be Reduced Then Repealed In 2010
  • Faulty IRA Conversions Can Lead To Tax Penalties
  • Many Individuals Pay Private Mortgage Insurance Beyond When It Is Necessary
  • Rethinking Estate Planning
  • Retirement Plan Contribution Limit Changes
  • Shopping For A Bank Account That Pays The Highest Possible Rate Of Interest
  • Your Medical File Report May Need A Check-Up
  • Do It Yourself Tax Preparers Watch Out: Tax Answers From IRS Centers Oftentimes Are Incorrect And/Or Insufficient
  • Five Tips For Preventing Thefts From Your Checking Account
  • Home Office Deductions: Hoops To Jump Through
  • Income Tax Effect On Single And Married Taxpayers
  • Income Tax Planning For Investments
  • Property Tax Challenges Should Not Be Overlooked
  • The IRS Will Follow Your Wealth To The Ends Of The Earth
  • When Do You Need Life Insurance
  • Year-End Tax Defferal Planning



  • ©2017 Legend Financial Advisors, Inc.®. All rights reserved.