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Comparing a 401K vs. a Traditional IRA

You may be wondering about 401(k)s and IRAs.  These both may sound a little confusing.  How do I know which is best for me or should I consider investing in both?

Both 401(k)s and IRAs are retirement savings accounts that offer tax advantages. However, there are some key differences between the two.

401(k)s are employer-sponsored retirement plans. Employees can contribute money from their paycheck to a 401(k) before taxes are taken out. This lowers their taxable income for the year. Employers usually offer a matching contribution, which is a percentage of the employee's contribution that the employer adds to the account.  This is an added bonus that you do not get with an IRA.

IRAs are individual retirement accounts that can be opened by anyone, regardless of whether they have an employer-sponsored retirement plan. IRAs offer similar tax-free investment growth advantages as 401(k)s, but there are some key differences. For example, the contribution limits for IRAs are lower than the contribution limits for 401(k)s. Also, IRAs are funded with after tax funds that may or may not be deductible from your taxes for the year depending on your income level.  Additionally, IRAs offer more investment options than 401(k)s, but they also require you to open the account instead of just participating in an employer sponsored 401(k) plan that deducts your investment contribution from your paycheck.

So, which is better for you? It depends on your individual circumstances. If you have an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan with a good company match, then it's a good idea to contribute at least to the amount of the match. The employer match is like free money.  This increases your investment amount even before the investment returns begin.  If you contribute up to the match on your 401(k), then you may consider contributing to an IRA to get more investment options that may better align with your wealth-building goals. Additionally, if you don't have an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, or if you just want more investment options than your 401(k) offers, then you may want to consider contributing to an IRA instead.

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between 401(k)s and IRAs:

Ultimately, the best way to decide which type of account is right for you is to speak with a financial advisor. They can help you assess your individual needs and goals and recommend the best retirement savings plan that is right for you.  Paycheck to Wealth is here to help.  Please contact us today for a free review.

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