Category : taxes

Don’t Sit: How to Rollover Your 401k

Congrats! You’ve landed a new job (never a doubt) and didn’t even have to list us as a reference (Oh, the accolades we would’ve thrown your way). While you’re busy getting acclimated to your new work digs, if you have a 401k with your previous employer, don’t forget to bring it with you, along with your trusty stapler. Here are a couple options on how to roll it over:    

Direct rollover to new company plan

If you plan on performing a direct rollover of your old account, first check to make sure your new employer’s retirement plan will accept 401k rollovers. If so, contact the 401k administrator at your new company for a new account address [Example: ABC 401k Plan FBO (for the benefit of) YOUR NAME]. Once you fill out all required paperwork, your 401k funds will either be transferred directly from your old plan to the new plan, or mailed to you as a check made out to the new account address. Just make sure to turn it over to your new company’s 401k administrator.

Rollover to an IRA

You can also roll over your 401k to a traditional IRA, either by transferring the funds to your existing traditional IRA, or by opening a new IRA to receive the funds. No dollar limit is required for either one. You can also roll over – or convert – your non-Roth 401k money to a Roth IRA. The taxable portion of your distribution from the 401k plan will be included in your income at the time of the rollover.

Leave it where it is.

Sometimes the best move you can make with your 401k is to not make any move at all. At least for the time being. For instance, If you’re happy with the investment alternatives your former job offers, or if you need some more time deciding your next move, or if your new company requires a certain amount of time before you can participate in their 401k plan, you may be able to simply leave your 401k where it is.  

Cash out.

Please advise, we only recommend this as a “last resort” option. After you leave your previous employer, you can choose to withdraw your 401k funds in a lump sum after leaving your previous employer. To do this, request that your 401k plan administrator cut you a check. While the check amount will look great in your hands, remember that cashing out could put a dent in your retirement savings, plus you may be faced with significant taxes and penalties in the short term, too.

Of course, not all 401k plans are created equal. So before you make a final decision, we’ll help you choose the best fit for your retirement goals. Hey, it’s what we’re here for, so let’s chat.  

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Study Abroad at 37? How to Hoard Cash for Return to College

This is part two in a three-part series addressing how people can save for college or reduce or eliminate student loan debt.  In our first post, we shared some tips that are “better than faking your death” to pay off student loan debt. In this sampler tray (or beer flight) of savings ideas, we’ll share how adults who are looking to return to college can find financial assistance or reduce the cost of post-secondary education.

We covered the reasons why in more detail in our first post, but we’re chatting about college savings and student loan debt for two reasons:

  • First, plain and simple. The quicker you can wipe out debt, the quicker you can start saving properly for other life events.
  • Second, we recently launched a personal financial advice service. Clients can access it via mobile or desktop using the chat feature on the bottom-right of the screen. Since we’ve launched, the topic of student loan debt has been a top question posed by our clients.

A Happy Hour of Options for Adults Wanting to Return to College

So maybe you’ve always eyed going back for that graduate degree. Perhaps you launched yourself into the workforce early and never quite finished your undergrad. Or you’re looking to make a career change. Whatever your reason for returning to the BIG U, many options exist for scholarships, financial assistance and strategies to reduce your overall cost.

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The Tax Man Giveth and the Tax Man Taketh Away

It’s that glorious time of year again: Tax Time!

At this point, the tax damage is done. There’s not a lot you can do…BUT did you know that the best time to start planning for your taxes isn’t in December? It is now.

If you find yourself in either of these scenarios, here are some actions you can take:

If you are getting a refund from the IRS

Number one, call your HR Department to adjust your W-4 form and raise the allowances you are claiming. This will increase the amount you get on your paycheck (after they get done taxing it).

Number two, raise the amount you are saving into your 401k. Once you do this, your after-tax paycheck will likely go back down to what it “used to be.” You may have to fiddle with the W-4 allowances and 401k savings rate to get the numbers to shake-out. Once you’ve done this, you will save more money into your 401k, pay less in taxes, and your after-tax paycheck should still be about the same! Boom! Painless saving. Granted, you’ll stop getting a refund each year (which is nothing more than an interest-free loan to the government,) but your future retirement thanks you in advance!

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What The Heck Does “Pre-Tax” Really Mean?

You may have heard the term “pre-tax” in the context of your company sponsored retirement plan (401k or similar). What you may not realize is just how beneficial, and rare, that term really is.

Let’s Assume Your Employer Offers a Retirement Savings Plan Like a 401k.

These types of tax-favored retirement plans allow participants to contribute some of their salary to their 401k account before taxes are assessed. If you don’t contribute anything to your 401k, your friends at the IRS will assess taxes on ALL of your salary.

So let’s also assume that your salary is $50,000. From that, you choose to contribute 10% per paycheck to your 401k. That means you contribute $5,000 (10% of $50,000) into your 401k. To your benefit, the IRS is now only able to tax you on $45,000, NOT your $50,000 salary. This is because your 401k contribution is taken from your paycheck pre-tax. (Note: Pre-tax does not mean you avoid any FICA taxes. You may owe Social Security and Medicare tax, for example. FICA taxes are based on gross pay.)

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120% Rate of Return

If your employer offers a pre-tax retirement savings plan like a 401k, 403b, 457, or similar and they offer a matching contribution you may be the lucky benefactor of a 120% rate of return on your contributions.

Let me explain. Lets assume the following:

$50,000 annual salary
Your employer matches 100% of the first 3% of your contribution. So if you contribute 3% of your salary to your 401k, your employer will also contribute 3% of your salary to your 401k.

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