AARP Getting Started in Rebuilding Your 401(k) Account by Paul Katzeff

By Paul Katzeff

AARP electronic versions provide you with functional assistance, confirmed recommendations, and specialist information.

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Extra resources for AARP Getting Started in Rebuilding Your 401(k) Account

Sample text

Its purpose is to help your employer encourage you to save and invest for retirement. The fewer retired people who end up on welfare, food stamps, and street corners selling pencils from a tin cup, the better. A company match is usually triggered by your own investment. But sometimes it depends on your age, years of employment, or how well the company is doing. One way or the other, 98 percent of 401(k) plans offer some matching contribution, according to benefits consultants Hewitt Associates.

The rest of you, read on. A 401(k) plan does indeed provide you with a free pay raise. 1. Your contributions can lower your taxes. 2. Your investments grow without being taxed year-by-year. You can plow those would-be taxes back into your investments. 3. Your company almost certainly matches your contribution with a bonus that goes into your account. No other source of savings or income duplicates that triple play—not your savings, not your pension (if you’ve got one), not Social Security. A 401 (k) Plan versus an IRA An individual retirement account (IRA) comes closer than savings, pensions, or Social Security to matching a 401 (k).

For instance, if you are in the 28 percent bracket, when you make a $2,000 contribution to your 401 (k) account, that $2,000 is not taxed. You save 28 percent of that $2,000, or $560. Don’t confuse a tax deduction with a tax credit. If you are entitled to a tax credit, you subtract it from your tax bill. After you calculate your tax bill, for example, a $2,000 tax credit reduces your taxes by $2,000. It doesn’t matter what tax bracket you’re in. Best of Both Worlds Your contributions to your traditional 401 (k) account are tax-deductible.

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