May 23, 2013
Good news! 401(k) balances are at their highest levels ever, according to this report. The average person's balance is now over $80,000, an increase of 75% since 2009, thanks in large part to the stock market rally that started in 2009 and has continued to this day.
401(k) plans can often seem like one size fits all products, which can create a bit of problem when considering the wide range of folks who use them. Starting with bright-eyed employees just out of college, all the way to those ready to knock on retirement's door - the question is, how do you make it work for you? Here are some things to consider, for folks of all ages.
20s - "It is best to start saving early. But if it's too late to start early, just start." I love that phrase, and it rings true when it comes to saving. If you start now, even modest savings can be worth big bucks a few years down the road. Many employers have once again started to make matching contributions to 401(k) plans. Find out what you need to save to get the maximum match from your employer (FREE MONEY), pick a few funds, and get started.
30s - Married? Divorced? Kids? When is the last time that you updated your beneficiaries? If you and your spouse recently said "I do," or "I don't anymore," it's time to make sure your beneficiaries are up to date. If you've welcomed a son or daughter into the world, consider adding them as a contingent beneficiary to your retirement accounts.
40s - Do you like tax free investments? Many companies are now starting to offer Roth 401(k) plans along with traditional 401(k) plans. If you make too much to fund your Roth IRA, Roth 401(k)s are great. Not only can you contribute to the plans regardless of your income, but instead of being able to contribute only $5,000 like with a Roth IRA, you can save up to $17,500 annually in a Roth 401(k) ($23,000 if you're over age 50). Note: Some employers do not yet offer Roth 401(k) plans, though more and more are starting to.
50s - The days of working at the same company for 30 years and then retiring have passed us by. We've seen that firsthand here in Rochester. If you're on a second career and have an old 401(k) out there, consider rolling it into an IRA to take advantage of greater investment options, and the ability tailor your assets to work in concert with your needs and expectations for your future.
60s - The textbook says that by now your 401(k) should be 50% stocks and 50% bonds. True for you? Maybe, maybe not. Chances are you are starting to think pretty heavily about retiring one day soon, and the right structure of your 401(k) is unique to your personal situation. It depends more than a few things: how well you've saved up to this point, whether you'll have pension income in retirement, and how much you'll expect to collect in Social Security. Your financial advisor can help answer all of these questions.
It is great news that 401(k) accounts have reached all-time highs. Congratulations! And remember: "It's best to start early. But if it's too late to start early, just start."
(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author's opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).