Retiring? 5 ways to maximize your benefits
Friday, August 16, 2019
Ready to ride off into the sunset with your pension or 401(k)? Make sure you keep it plentiful — and growing. Here are some key, under-the radar tips for ways about-to-be retirees can best maximize their money and expand their finances in a solid way.
Put this advice into motion before you leave your job — and look forward to some truly golden years!
Identify your specific plan's facets.
It's key to understand the difference between a pension and an IRA. According to Investopedia, 401(k) plans and pensions are two specific sections of the retirement trifecta: your workplace pension, your Social Security, and your personal retirement savings.
Your pension will provide you with lifelong guaranteed income, with your company assuming all the risk in terms of its investment specifics. Your 401(k) plan means you assume all investment risk yourself, as it does for each individual employee of your company.
It's important to know, too, that originally, 401(k) plans were designed as a supplement to traditional pensions, not as a substitute to them, which is crucial to consider when you're thinking about the importance of stretching both of those assets.
Be tax-wise about withdrawals.
You need to understand the ramifications of taking money out of your accounts before doing so. According to Fidelity Investments, many retirees have three separate account types to navigate:
Bank and brokerage accounts, which are taxable. Earnings from these accounts, including interest, dividends, and realized capital gains, are taxed, for the most part, in the year they’re generated
Tax-deferred accounts such as traditional IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, SEP IRAs, and annuities. It's probable that contributions to these accounts are considered "pretax," which means that you will have to pay taxes on the amounts you withdraw when you are in retirement. Earnings you may have generated from these accounts are also most likely going to be taxed as part of your income.
Tax-exempt accounts such as health savings accounts (HSAs), Roth IRAs, Roth 401(k)s, and Roth 403(b)s. Usually, contributions to these accounts are typically made "after tax." When you withdraw, you most likely will not have to pay taxes on the amount you take out.
Planning ahead is key to avoiding unpleasant tax surprises. Keep in mind, too, that any questions you have regarding withdrawals should be brought up to your tax advisor before you take out the cash.
Speak up while you're still on the job.
Do you know the right questions to ask your company in the months leading up to retirement? According to Baird Retirement Management, you should make sure you address the following specifics with your employer:
- What is the official date in your records of my retirement?
- Do I have to sign a retirement agreement with the company?
- Do my health benefits continue in any way after retirement?
- How does retirement affect my stock options?
- Do I have any deferred compensation owed to me?
- Do I need to cash out my entire 401(k) at this time?
Knowing your company policy and specific situation before you leave your job is key to making sure you have everything coming to you outlined and squared away, which will make your pension money last even longer.
Keep on top of your paperwork.
Read all the fine print in the documentation you receive regarding your pension and related accounts. Seek investment advice from a professional advisor if you don't understand even the smallest detail.
Follow the golden rule of patience.
If you can, wait 24 hours before making a withdrawal from your pension or any related account.
That way, if a day later you still feel the need for the withdrawal is pressing, you can make it with some clarity, knowing it's in your best interest. Being prudent is always the best way to proceed!
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