Every people think that i should have a perfect retirement life. An you can join this plan for your retirement life.
A 401K is a long term savings plan which is designed to accumulate money towards retirement. It is so-named after the section of the Internal Revenue laws which allow this particular kind of financial planning option. 401K plans are typically only available through an employer; the money is generally taken out of the employee’s paycheck every week or month and deposited in the account.
What is a 401k Plan? How does it work? What are the benefits of having a 401k retirement plan?
A 401k is a company/employer sponsored retirement plan that allows workers to take out a portion of money from their daily paycheques, store it on a retirement plan account and earn interest tax-deferred. Tax-deferred means this saved income is not taxable until you withdraw it at the age of 65 or more.
A 401k retirement plan must be sponsored by an employer or an organization. The actual work of administration and monitoring of accounts is usually outsourced to independent banks, mutual fund companies, financial service enterprises and more. As soon as an employee gets a paycheck at the end of the month, he can transfer a portion of it (there are annual limits) to his 401k account. Types of investments available include mutual funds, stocks, bonds, money market instruments (both short and long term).
How is money contributed to a 401k Retirement Account?
- Fixed percentage of paycheck goes directly into 401k account
- Employer makes profit-sharing contributions into the 401k plan
- Employer as an incentive, puts in extra money (on top of the paycheck deduction) into the employee's retirement account
If an employee quits working with his company, the 401k retirement account still remains active for the rest of his/her life.
Note: After 2004, some companies have started charging fees to administer and maintain your 401k retirement account if you have left their company.
If you leave your current employer and have a 401k account, you can move this account to a professional financial institution. After this, the account changes from a 401k retirement account into an IRA account. However, if an employee quits his former employer and joins a new one, he can do what's called a 401k rollover to his new company.
Details of 401k Retirement Plans
* In 2011, there is a limit of $16500 that an employee can put into his 401k account. This is a before-tax amount. For example, say you earn $50,000 a year. You can therefore allocate $16500 from this 50,000 and put it into the 401k account. What's your taxable income? $50,000 - $16500 = $33500
* Employees who are over 50 years old are allowed what's called "catch-up contributions." On top of the original $16500, >50 years old employees can allocate an additional $5500 per year into their 401k accounts.
* If you contribute more than the set limit ($16500), the excess amount must be withdrawn by April of the following year. If you do not do so, you will have to pay a certain penalty as well as taxes on the excess amount.
Why 401k Plans Are Bad
401k history and background
Section 401(k) of the tax code was enacted in 1981 as a way for people to save money for retirement outside of the traditional pension retirement plan. Your employer deducts money from your paycheck, pre-tax, and the money is placed into some sort of investment vehicle (usually a mutual fund). Because 401k contributions are pre-tax, and there is no tax on interest or capital gains, there is a significant tax advantage to participating in a 401k plan.
When you change jobs, then you can rollover your 401k into your own IRA account, which is something I highly recommend. When you turn 59 1/2, you can start withdrawing money from your 401k or IRA account without incurring withdrawal penalties. But you have to pay tax on the money you withdraw. (Fair enough, it was put in there tax free.)
Most of the above information came from the Fidelity 401K website.
So why are 401k plans bad?
401k plans are almost revered as much as apple pie and baseball. But there is an insidious evil lurking behind them. So I’m being quite bold by going against the conventional wisdom and pointing out the dark underbelly of the 401k.
The problem I have with 401k plans is that they are investing on autopilot. Almost everyone with a job contributes to them, but they have absolutely no idea what they are doing.
At every company I’ve worked at, it has always been the same story. The employee is presented with a big smorgasbord of mutual funds. One of them is a conservative money market fund that invests in safe short term government securities. Almost all the other funds are equity funds (that would be stock market funds, for those unfamiliar with the word "equity").
The wisdom from Wall Street is that the mutual fund is much safer than investing on your own. But I have some strong doubts about that. All you have to do is look at the huge losses taken by high flying funds when the NASDAQ crashed in 2000. It was the running joke at the time that 401ks had turned into 101ks. Ha ha. Meanwhile my supposedly risky investments in small cap stocks have paid off handsomely and I’ve had positive returns every year during the big bear market. So whose investments were more risky?
When it comes down to it, the typical 401k investor has no idea how to select a mutual fund to invest in. He is completely and utterly clueless. Faced with a bewildering array of funds, he often follows one of the following strategies: (1) invest a little bit into each fund; (2) invest in the fund with the biggest returns; (3) invest in a couple of funds with the biggest returns (a combination strategy).
All of the strategies above have the effect of encouraging the 401k investor to pursue a risky investing strategy. With the first option, the most conservative, the 401k investor still winds up mostly investing in stocks, because the typical 401k plan offers one safe money market fund, and then a whole bunch of stock funds, so the invest evenly strategy results in most of the money being invested in the stock market.
The second and third strategies are far worse, because the 401k investor puts his money into the sector with the most momentum that is probably the most overpriced. And thus it becomes even more overpriced. But investments don’t go up forever. The NASDAQ finally reached a point where it could go no higher, and then it crashed.
My opinion is that people who don’t know how to select individual stocks are equally unqualified to select mutual funds. But that’s not what the mutual fund industry wants people to know. (And we know what a bunch of crooks they are, given the recent news stories.)
401k plans and the bubble
As mentioned earlier, 401k plans have had, and continue to have, a significant influence on pumping up stock prices. The stock market investor used to be someone who knew at least a little more about stocks than the average person. But today the stock market investor is the average person. (CNBC’s Lawrence Kudlow likes to talk about the “investor class.”) Everyone, no matter how ignorant about corporate finance, is urged to invest in the stock market through his company’s 401k program.
Autopilot investing by everyman helped to push U.S. stock prices to their highest valuations ever (according to Yale economics professor Robert Shiller, author of Irrational Exuberance). And I think that one of the reasons that stock prices still remain historically high, despite all the bad karma from Wall Street, is that the 401k autopilot investing continues unabated. A few weeks ago, I wrote in my blog about the echo bubble we are currently experiencing. Blame the 401k plans once again.
Advice for 401k investors
If you have a 401k plan, and it’s invested in stock market funds, especially stock market funds that have a strong emphasis on tech stocks (and if you don’t know what kind of stocks your mutual funds are invested in then maybe you shouldn’t be invested in stock market funds), then my advice is GET OUT. I repeat. GET OUT OF STOCKS. Put all of your 401k money into the safe money market fund (which hopefully every plan has at least one of) and wait.
The bottom of a bear market comes when everyone thinks that stocks are a bad investment. We are obviously far away from the bottom because everyone is still investing in stocks.
100% of my own 401k money is invested in a money market fund. I have plenty of non-401k money invested in stocks of my own picking, but I have no use for any of the stock funds that my employer has offered me. Unfortunately, I’m not lucky enough to have an employer who offers a self-directed 401k plan where I can pick my own stocks. So my 401k money is invested in the safe money market fund, which will maintain its value when the echo-bubble finally bursts.
Can I Borrow From My 401k Plan ?
Taking a loan from your 401K plan is helpful when done carefully, but there are many limits. Early withdrawal has penalties and contributions will have to be repayed to replenish your retirement plan.
The maximum amount you can borrow from your 401k plan is either 50 percent of the holdings or $50,000, whichever is less. The great thing about this loan is that there is no credit check required, because you're essentially borrowing from yourself. This is a great feature that comes in very handy during times when it's almost impossible to obtain a loan unless you have a near-perfect credit score. The interest rate, which is prime plus 1 percent most of the time, is set by your employer. The repayment term, which is also set by your company, is usually 10 years. However, when you borrow for a mortgage down payment, the term can be expanded to 30 years.
Repaying the Loan to Your 401k Plan
Once you have taken a loan from your 401k plan, you have reduced the sum available to you after retirement. The repayment amounts will be deducted from your paycheck from after-tax earnings. Also, your employer might post limitations on your 401k contributions or stop them altogether until you fully repay the loan, which means you'll have less money saved for retirement.
Failure to Pay Off Your Loan
If you fail to pay off your entire loan until you are 59 1/2, the IRS will impose a penalty of 10 percent plus the regular income tax on the entire amount borrowed.
I think that a 401K is easy for most people to invest in retirement because you just have to establish what percentage of your salary will go into the account and you never see that money.
This way you can get used to saving for retirement and not worry about it. However, there are limits to how much you can contribute each year. The 401K rules state that the maximum yearly contribution is $16,500.
If you are 50 and over there is a catch up provision that allows you the opportunity to invest an additional $5,500 beyond the maximum limit.
If your company does not offer a matching for your 401K contributions then you should consider opening an IRA account. You can open a traditional IRA if your income is too high for the Roth IRA.
The traditional IRA works like a 401K but you can invest in any security you would like. You can invest in mutual funds, bonds, stocks, and even real estate. This money grows tax deferred until you retire.
The Roth IRA grows tax free and you have to pay taxes on your initial contribution each year.