A 401(k) helps you save for retirement through powerful tax benefits and a range of investment options. They can come in two types: a traditional 401(k), and a Roth 401(k), both of which are available to you at Waters.
Advantages – traditional 401(k)
First, there are the tax advantages, which apply to any traditional 401(k), no matter which company is offering it:
- The money you contribute to your 401(k) is taken out of your paycheck before federal taxes. If you figure you pay an average of about 23% in federal income tax, that means for every $100 you invest in a 401(k), you could only invest $77 in most other types of accounts. (Since you can’t contribute to most accounts until after your federal taxes have been taken out.)
- The money isn’t taxed as long as it stays in the account. (And that includes money you earn from 401(k) investments.) Normally, you pay taxes every year on the profit you make from investments. But in a 401(k), the profits aren’t taxed (as long as you keep them in the account), leaving you with more to invest the next year than you would have with most other accounts.
- As long as you wait until you are 59 and-a-half or older to withdraw the money, you’ll just pay the regular income tax rate on the funds.
Advantages – Roth 401(k)
Waters also allows you to invest in a Roth 401(k), which has different tax advantages than a traditional 401(k).
- Instead of contributing money into the account pre-tax, you contribute post-tax money, which means that you pay the taxes upfront. So, unlike the traditional 401(k), putting $100 into a Roth 401(k) means you’ll be seeing $100 less in your take-home pay–however, that’s the last you’ll see of federal taxes on the money.
- When you withdraw the money in retirement, you don’t pay federal income tax on the funds, including any interest the account has earned (this is the exact opposite of the traditional 401(k), where you only pay federal taxes when the money is withdrawn).
But whether you choose the traditional 401(k) or the Roth, in addition to the standard advantages, Waters will match any contribution you make, dollar for dollar, up to 6% of your salary per year. That’s a 6% bonus you can give yourself just for being smart about your future. And you are immediately 100% vested in that match contribution.
To help decide which 401(k) to contribute to, check out www.401k.com.
You’re eligible to contribute to your 401(k) from day 1 at Waters.
You can set up or adjust your 401(k) at any time during the year with Fidelity, at www.401k.com.
If you are a new hire and do not actively enroll in the 401(k) within 31 days of your start date, Waters will auto-enroll you at 3% of your yearly salary. (Though you are allowed to opt out.)
Once you have been auto-enrolled, you will be set up for an automatic 1% annual increase to your contribution. (Again, unless you opt out.)
If you have any retirement savings in other qualified accounts, like prior employer plans, you can consolidate those accounts into the Waters plan without losing any tax benefits. (call Fidelity at 1-800-835-5095 for assistance.)
Additionally, if you consolidate your retirement savings, you’ll be able to use those funds toward Waters’ College Tuition Benefit program, which is linked below.
There is a yearly limit to how much you may contribute to the account each year, determined by the IRS.
This year, the limit is 20,500. Both Traditional pre-tax contributions and after-tax Roth 401(k) contributions count toward this IRS annual contribution limit.
And if you happen to be 50 or older, you can deposit an extra in catch-up contributions. (Even if you turn 50 on December 31st, you can still add that extra .)
Investing Your 401(k) Money
Don’t worry. You don’t have to have a have a background as a hedge fund manager to handle your 401(k). There are a number of investment funds to choose from, including those geared toward brand-new investors.
Though…if you actually were a hedge fund manager (or close enough), there’s a self-directed brokerage account option for a more hands-on approach to managing your money.
You can start withdrawing money from the account once you turn 59 and-a-half, with no penalty. At that time, you’ll just pay federal income tax.
If you withdraw money from the account before you turn 59 and-a-half, per government regulation, you will pay an extra 10% penalty fee on the amount withdrawn, on top of federal income taxes.
In the event of your death, your saved money will go to your beneficiary. So don’t forget to declare a beneficiary on 401k.com and to double check whom you’ve got set as your beneficiary every year.
Fidelity will mail to your home a welcome kit in your first few weeks at Waters. To learn more, go to www.401k.com, or call 1-800-835-5095.