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The 401(K): What You Should Know

401(K)

What is a 401(k)?

A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement savings account that allows employees to contribute a portion of their salary into a pre-tax retirement savings plan. Contributions are matched by the employer, which increases the amount of money saved for retirement. Earnings and withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income upon payout.

Benefits

A 401(k) offers several benefits to retirement savers. The most obvious of these is employer matching, which contributes additional money to your savings. This means that you will have a larger retirement fund available when you are ready to retire. In addition, employees who contribute to a plan are sheltered from taxes, which can significantly reduce taxable income and lead to larger refund checks during tax time.

When it comes to investments, 401(k) plans typically offer solid investment options. Plans typically offer access to a wide range of stocks, bonds, index funds, and mutual funds. It is important to do research before investing, as certain funds are more aggressive, while others are more conservative.

Finally, many plans alleviate the stress associated with retirement planning. All contributions and corresponding employer matching funds are deducted directly from your paycheck, which eliminates the need to remind yourself to save for retirement.

Contribution Limits

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sets limits on how much you can contribute to a plan in any given year. In 2023, an employee can contribute up to $22,500 to their 401(k) plan. Employees 50 or older can contribute an additional $7,500 each year, known as “catch-up contributions.” It is important to stay within the contribution limit, as any contributions above the limit will be subject to taxes and penalties.

Eligibility Requirements

Types of employers who offer 401(k) plans vary depending on the size of the company and their budget. Generally, most full-time employees are eligible to participate in their employer’s 401(k) plan. It is important to check with the employer to determine eligibility requirements for that particular plan.

Managing 401(k)s

Most employers work with financial advisors who can provide advice on how to best manage a 401(k). When deciding on how to manage your 401(k), it is important to research and understand the risks and rewards of each investment option.

The 401(k) is a great way to save for retirement, as it offers an employer match, tax benefits, and a secure investment option. However, it is important to stay within the contribution limits and weigh the risks and rewards of each investment option before committing to a plan.

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