The Best Retirement Accounts to Start Saving

The Best Retirement Accounts to Get Started

Like so many other people, I was not concerned about saving for retirement in my 20s. I was already struggling to pay bills and avoid crushing student loans. Planning for retirement was the least of my concerns. Now that I am in my 30s and settling into my career, I am kicking myself for not starting sooner. However, it is never too late to begin. If you are late to the game, here are some of the best retirement accounts to help you start saving for the future.

The 5 Best Retirement Accounts for Beginners

If you don’t know where or how to begin saving for the future, it is always wise to seek professional advice. When I sat down with my financial advisor, he clearly explained the different investment vehicles available to me. After reviewing loads of information, these five types of retirement accounts seemed to be the best place to get started!

1. Employer Matching 401(k)

The easiest place to begin saving for retirement is through your current employer. Many companies offer employer matching 401(k) retirement plans for their employees. These are retirement savings plan to which your employer also makes annual contributions.

How much you earn depends on the amount you contribute and your employer’s matching program. Some companies match a percentage of your contribution, up to a set portion of your salary. The best plans match up to 100%. However, employers typically choose partial matching scheme. In other instances, the employer’s contribution is based on a pre-determined dollar amount, regardless of the employee’s earning.

While the level of benefits varies, you should always take advantage of employer matching 401(k)s. If you don’t utilize these accounts, then you are missing out on free money.

2. Solo 401(k)

Also referred to as one-participant-k, a Solo 401(k) is great for people who own their own business. Since self-employed individuals do not have access to employer sponsored retirement plans, it provides a great alternative savings vehicle.

To qualify for this type of retirement account, you have to be self-employed and the only employee. The rules state you can’t contribute to these accounts if you maintain any other full-time employees.

However, since you are both the employee and employer, a greater amount of your savings is tax-deferred. Furthermore, you can contribute more to a Solo 401(k) than other types of accounts such as SEPs and Simple IRAs. When options are limited, this is one of the best retirement accounts to get you closer to your retirement goals.

3. Traditional IRA

Traditional IRAs are retirement accounts that offer several tax advantages. Since you put in pre-tax dollars, your contributions are not considered taxable income. Any money you park in these accounts also continues to grow tax-free until you begin taking withdrawals.

These accounts give you incredible flexibility in how much and what kind of investments you can purchase. However, it does require you to manage your own retirement accounts and determine how you invest your money.

4. Roth IRA

When I asked which accounts best suited for my personal goals, my financial advised that I begin by setting up a Roth IRA. It is another retirement account that provides significant tax benefits and more flexibility in your retirement planning.

Since contributions come from after-tax dollars, you pay no taxes on your contributions or earnings once you begin taking withdrawals after retirement. Even if you take money before you are 59 1/2, there are no penalties or taxes if you take money from your original contributions. Unfortunately, you can only contribute $6,000 annually to these accounts.

While there are strict limits, Roth IRAs are a solid foundation to begin building your retirement savings on. Not only does this give you greater adaptability, but also more control over your money.

5. Life Insurance Plans with Cash Value

There are many types of life insurance available to you. In fact, your employer may offer life insurance benefits that have cash value. Investing in these accounts protects you against several kinds of potential risks as well.

Not only do Cash Value Life Insurance plans provide death benefits, but they also allow you to build its cash value that could help supplement your retirement accounts. Initially, your withdrawals first come from the premiums you paid, so they are not taxed. However, be careful not to let policies lapse because you could end owing a ton in taxes.

Life insurance plans are a good option for people who have already maxed out there annual contributions on other retirement accounts. It offers another way to build your nest egg and diversify your portfolio.

Why Should You Start Retirement Accounts

Although you will likely receive Social Security benefits after retirement, most financial advisors tell you not to rely on it as your sole source of income. Some analysts doubt there will even be any money left when millennials reach retirement age. However, one thing is certain. There are no guarantees that your benefits will cover all your expenses after retirement. So, it is important to start planning now and building your savings to fund your retirement.

There is no single correct approach to retirement planning. Your specific strategy will likely be determined why which types of accounts are available to you. As someone who is self-employed, I have fewer options and require more direct involvement. However, it is best to discuss your specific circumstances with a professional to determine the best course of action. Once you choose the best retirement accounts for your situation, max them out every year. Regular contributions can help you catch up and get you closer to your retirement goals.

While I will always regret not starting my retirement planning from an early age, it is never too late. The most important thing is to recognize that you can start saving now. The more time your money has to accrue compound interest, the more tax-advantaged funds you have to last you through your golden years.

Read More

 

Fun Jobs after Retirement

Fun Jobs after Retirement

Although we all look forward to relaxing after retirement, many retirees are choosing to return to work during their golden years. In fact, 55 percent of Americans plan on working after retirement according to a recent study. Whether it is to earn extra cash to supplement your income, preserve your retirement funds, stay active, or simply because you miss social interactions, there are many fun jobs available to you after retirement. Here are a few low-stress jobs that cater to a wide variety of interests.

Solo Pursuits

Repair Work (Computer, Car, Home)

If you have honed technical repair skills, there is a high demand for your expertise. In particular, there is currently a huge market for cheap computer repair skills. Since there will also continue to be a need in the years to come, these jobs are also a fairly reliable source of income. Service and simple repair jobs are also a good outlet for those who like to work with their hands. The luxury of repair work is that you can scale back or increase your workload based on what you feel you can handle.

Freelance Writing

If you have a knack for composition, freelance writing is a great way to earn extra income after retirement. Not only can you work from anywhere, but it also allows you to apply your knowledge in a new way. You can browse through the different contracts online to see if your skill set matches their needs. If you find something that piques your interests, put in a bid and see if writing jobs are right for you.

Landscaping and Gardening

For those who enjoy the outdoors, landscaping and gardening are a great way to stay active and enjoy nature. You could check with local companies for openings or start a garden if you have a green thumb. There are plenty of opportunities to sell your home-grown produce at the farmers market or set up a roadside stand. Of course, you should check local regulations, but it is a good source of fresh vegetables and cash.

Arts and Crafts

If you are the creative type, you can try selling your works of art as a side job. It lets you turn your hobbies into fun jobs after retirement. Online marketplaces like Etsy allow you work from home and reach a wider customer base through their websites. You can also attend local or seasonal craft shows to help you sell what you make. When it comes to selling arts and crafts, your revenue potential is only limited by your own imagination.

Social Jobs for Retirees

Teaching

If you have an advanced degree, teaching jobs could be a employment option after retirement. Many educational institutions seek out instructors who have a wealth of real-life experience. Reach out to schools or local learning institutions that you would be interested to work with.  There are also ways to earn income by developing and selling course content based on your career expertise. Sites like Udemy.com help you earn more passive income after retirement.

Driving

One job will always have great security, because there will always be a need for drivers. With ride share and delivery apps like Lyft , Uber, and DoorDash, there are more options to earn money from side jobs than ever before. All you need is a car, a valid driver’s license, and the time to do it. The best part is that you determine how often and when you want to work. For the social butterflies, it is also a great way to meet new people from all walks of life.

Caretaking

Caretaking is a great option for both temporary and long term income revenue. You can look for part-time jobs that offer flexible hours or more permanent positions with steady income. Search for babysitting jobs if you enjoy spending time with children. There also find positions to assist with elder care to ensure they receive the attention they need. Animal lovers can offer services to pet owners who want to avoid expensive kennel fees. Caretaking jobs are a great way to meet both your social and financial needs.

Retail

If you want to work in retail, there are many fun jobs for you after retirement. Check for part-time or seasonal positions at your favorite stores. Retail jobs can help keep you sharp and meet new people. Although they are physically taxing at times, they also have many social benefits. The bonus of working in sales is that stores usually offer an employee discount as well.

Fun Jobs for Travelers

House Sitting

Since you have plenty of free time to travel after retirement, you have flexible hours that are perfect for housesitting. There are several websites posting positions to watch people’s homes while they are away. Some are temporary positions for only a week or two, like annual vacations. Others are seeking more long-term employees for vacation homes and rental properties. You can also search out these jobs in vacation destinations and help cover your travel expenses.

Tour Guide

Tour guides have fun jobs after retirement. It is the ideal job for those who live in places that attract many tourists every year. It does require a combination of skills, but these types of jobs allow you to teach, socialize, and get outdoors. You also get to do something you enjoy while getting plenty of physical exercise. Working as a tour guide could also be an interesting way to learn more about where you live.

Consultancy Jobs after Retirement

The best paying job for retirees are usually consultancy positions. For those who are highly trained or have years of professional experience, you can contract out your special skills. You could use your knowledge to find business solutions or develop structured frameworks for businesses to follow. Since these jobs are largely dependent on your networking and technical skills, there is more variation in how much they bring in. However, you have more marketability if you are familiar with software applications. The greatest draw to consulting work is that you can choose which clients to work with and determine your own schedules and fees.

If you are seeking new job opportunities after retirement, there are many opportunities available to you. Depending on your interests, needs, and skills, there are many fun jobs after retirement that could provide extra financial and social benefits during your golden years.

Read More

What Are Your Retirement Options after Employment Termination?

What Are Your Retirement Options after Employment Termination?

When you leave a job, there are several loose ends that you will need to tie up. One important consideration when you leave your position is what to do with your employer-sponsored retirement accounts. If you are new to investing or not well-versed in financial matters, you may be wondering what your retirement options are after employment termination. You have a few choices. But, some are better than others. Before you make any major decision, you must evaluate eligibility requirements, know the tax implications, and compare the fees and investment options available to you.

Options for Your Retirement Plans after Employment Termination

1. Leave it where it is.

Depending on how much you have invested in the employer-sponsored 401(k), you may be able to leave your money in the current account. If you have more than $5,000 invested in the old plan, most companies allow you to maintain your retirement account. Even if you are no longer work for the employer, you may be able to leave your money parked in the account.

This will be most beneficial to you if the old plan has low fees, good investment options, or you have a large balance. If you go in this direction, you could always roll it over to a different account in the future as well.

However, if the balance is less than $5,000, your former employer might require you to move it after employment termination. For balances under $1,000, the company could force you out by simply writing a check. But, for balances between $1,000 – $5,000, your former employer must assist you in setting up an IRA if they are forcing you out of their plan.

When considering you retirement options after employment termination, this may not the best one for you. You may want to consider alternatives if you are likely to forget about it, let the account sit dormant, or you are not impressed by the terms. Your former employer’s plan may have more limited options when compared to various IRA offerings or your new employer’s retirement savings program.

2. Roll it over to a plan with your new employer.

Another possibility is to roll over the balance to your new employer’s retirement plan. Most companies will allow new employees to enroll in their retirement savings plan once they have reached the minimum length of employment. It is a fairly simple process, and only requires some paperwork to complete a direct transfer. The administrator of your former plan can deposit the balance of the previous account into your new one.

Rolling your retirement plan into a new one prevents you from paying any taxes on the balance. If you do not want the direct transfer, you can also have your former employer issue a check for the balance. Then, you can deposit the funds yourself. However, you must do so within 60 days. Otherwise, you will pay income tax for the entire lump sum. Before you close the first account, make sure the new 401(k) is set up and able to receive balance transfers.

This option is cost-effective because you can defer taxation. Additionally, you can consolidate your funds into a single account rather than keeping track of several different retirement accounts after employment termination. It also makes things easier down the line for family members or heirs when they need to handle your financial affairs. Just be sure to compare the available options and fees. Once you transfer the balance, you cannot go back to your old plan.

3. Roll it over to an IRA.

If your new employee does not have a retirement plan for its employees or the options are not ideal, you should consider rolling it into an IRA. Whether you choose a traditional or Roth IRA, the account will be in your name. Therefore, you have greater control over the account and can choose any financial institution you like. Since you are not restricted by your employer, you have freedom to decide how and where you invest your money.

There are few restrictions or limitations on these kinds of transfers. Furthermore, both traditional and Roth IRAs provide a wide range of low-cost offerings. Consolidating your investments into a single account also makes them easier to track.

If you go this route, you will have to include the untaxed amount in your gross income for the fiscal year you completed the rollover. But, if you meet certain qualifications, future withdrawals could be tax-free.

4. Begin taking distributions.

If you are nearing retirement age, you may want to begin taking distributions from your accounts. You can begin receiving distributions at age 55. But, you may have to pay the penalty on the taxable portion of it. Most retirement accounts dictate that you must be 59 ½ to receive distributions without the 10% tax penalty on early withdrawals. However, those who retire between the ages of 55 and 59 ½ do not need to pay this penalty.

Many people avoid this option because of the taxation and penalty fees. Moreover, when you begin receiving distributions from a traditional 401(k) you will need to pay income tax. On the other hand, distributions from your IRA will be tax free as long as you meet the age requirements and had the account a minimum of five years.

5. Cash out the balance of the account.

The last resort is to cash out your retirement accounts. However, if you liquidate your retirement accounts early, you will have to pay taxes on the full amount in addition to the 10% penalty. Most financial advisors warn against this because you are depleting your retirement savings. Unless you need the cash now, it is better to leave it in your accounts until the balance and distribution payments are tax-deferred.

Explore Your Retirement Options

Before making any major financial decisions, you should explore all your options. Weigh the pros and cons and determine which route gets you closer to your financial goals. There are many online resources that can help you make informed decisions. However, there is no shame in admitting you need help if you are in over your head. When in doubt, it is always wise to seek professional advice.

Read More

How to Plan for Retirement When You Lost Your Savings

The sad truth is that most Americans are not properly prepared for retirement. According to a 2019 survey, 64% of Americans expect to retire with less than $10,000 in their accounts. Whether this is a result of medical expenses, poor investments, or outstanding debts, you must remember it is never to late to plan for retirement. It is also possible to start over and rebuild your nest egg. Here are five things you can do to get back on track when you have lost your savings.

How to Plan for Retirement When You Lost Your Savings

5 Ways to Help You Plan for Retirement

1. Ramp Up Your Savings Plan for Retirement.

While it may seem obvious, the first step to plan for retirement after you have lost your savings is to begin again. You must also be realistic and admit that your current savings plan is likely not enough to rebuild your nest egg. It will require a great deal of sacrifice, discipline, and lifestyle changes to regain what you lost.

First, carefully evaluate your monthly budget and see what you can do without. This means cutting out unnecessary expenses like entertainment expenditures, buying the latest electronics, and going out to eat. Create a minimum budget where you are only spending money on what you need to survive. Once you know what you need to meet your monthly bills, put every extra penny towards your retirement funds. Additionally, utilize employer-sponsored 401k plans and max out your IRA contributions. This includes catch-up contributions for those over 50. Make no mistake; it is difficult to do without the things you enjoy. However, supporting yourself after retirement is a much more important goal.

2. Delay Your Retirement.

Another option is to delay your retirement date. Not only does it allow more time to save, but also to see more gains on your investments. If you are still living off your wages, it will postpone when you must begin drawing from your retirement funds. Furthermore, it reduces the number of years that your savings must sustain you. Working a few more years may  prevent you from running through your savings too early.

Prolonging your retirement also increases your Social Security benefits. You are able to claim retirement benefits from 62, but you can maximize the amount if you work until 70. Your monthly check increases approximately 7-8% every year you hold off retiring. The income you earn during those years is also calculated into your monthly benefits which could increase the amount you receive. Unfortunately, there are no increases beyond age 70. Keep in mind that most workers retire sooner than expected due to layoffs, health issues, or caring for a family member or spouse. Although this is a good strategy to help plan for retirement, don’t bank on working till 70. You never know what surprises life may throw you that could put your savings plan off course.

3. Adjust Your Retirement Lifestyle.

Another hard pill to swallow after losing your savings is that you may not be able to live as lavishly as you had planned for retirement. You must create a new retirement budget by trimming the fat. This means tightening the purse strings and finding ways to lower monthly expenses after you retire. Some suggestions would include downsizing your home, eliminating travel plans, or moving to an area with a lower cost of living. Living on a restricted budget will help you stretch your savings and catch up to your retirement goals.

4. Understand How You Lost Your Savings.

Another important step when starting over is to understand where things went wrong. Some matters are beyond your control, but other lost their retirement savings due to poor investing decisions. If this includes you, you should evaluate your investing strategy and examine why your portfolio suffered such extensive losses. If you invested too heavily in one area, diversifying will reduce future market exposure and personal risk. Many are tempted to invest more aggressively to regain their savings, but this could backfire and cause a second major loss.

5. Seek Professional Advice.

The most important thing is to remember there is always hope. However, if you are unable to find your own solution it is very easy to fall into despair. If you feel like there is no way out, seek professional advice from a financial planner. They will assess your situation, explain the options available to you, and find solutions you may have overlooked. Also, choose someone who is fee-only. This means they only earn a commission if you make money. It may eliminate any concerns over conflicts of interest or doubts that they are making the best decisions for you. Even when you must go back to square one, there is always a path forward.

Read More