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Archive for the ‘401k’ Category

If you don’t already know about QRPs or Qualified Retirement Plans in a nutshell it’s your employer’s way of assisting with your retirement. With this plan you gain tax breaks for moving money from your paycheck into retirement. Many employers use a company match where the company will match your contribution if you contribute a certain percentage. For example, if your employer matches your contribution if you contribute 3% of your income. Other employers participate in matching as well as 100% vesting.

Vesting means as you leave the company you can take the money you contributed to your Qualified Retirement Plan as well as the money the company matched, if any. Vesting can be immediate or it may take years for you to fully vest or take your money and matched money upon leaving the company. I worked for a Financial Services company that allowed 100% vesting. When I was laid off, I was able to take my money and the companies matched money and roll it over into a Non-Qualified Retirement Account. Vesting entices employers to stay with the company during the vesting period. Without full vesting, you may take all of your contribution and a portion, if any, of matched money.

Here is a high level list of U.S. Retirement Plans:

Defined Benefit Plan (QRP)

Target Benefit Plan (QRP)

Defined Contribution Plan (QRP)

Profit-Sharing Plan (QRP)

Money-Purchase Pension Plan (QRP)

Stock Bonus Plan (QRP)

457 Plan

401(k) Plan (QRP)

403(b) Plan

Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA)

Traditional IRA

Roth IRA

Converted Roth IRA

Rollover IRA

Simple IRA

SEP-IRA

Keogh Plan (QRP)

QRP = Qualified Retirement Plan

Why are some retirement plans qualified? Qualified means the employer offering the plan will gain a tax break for their contribution. And money automatically deducted from your pay into your 401k is pre-tax dollars. This pre-tax contribution is a benefit to you as the employee because you may use your contribution as a tax deduction.

If you work for XYZ Company and you have a 401k plan (I use 401k because it’s very common at companies) and you decide to quit (this includes layoffs and firing) you can move that 401k to your new company or into a non-qualified retirement plan such as a Roth IRA.

Non-Qualified Retirement Plans are everywhere and they can be as close as your local bank branch. The key in finding a good one is research. The top finance magazines make suggestions as well and your financial planner, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), bookkeeper and next door neighbor. I would imagine if your dog could talk they would weight in their top picks as well. You don’t have to Ben Bernanake, the former Federal Reserve Chairman, to be a good retirement investor.

Now if you are investing in a non-qualified retirement account such as a Traditional IRA or Roth IRA, the 2014 maximum the Internal Revenue Service will let you contribute is $5,500 per year or $6,500 if you’re over 50 or over. Self-employed business owner can use a SEP-IRA and the contribution 2014 limits are 25% of compensation or $52,000 and subject to annual cost-of-living adjustments for later years.

Tips to remember:

  1. Find out what type of retirement plan you have Qualified or Non-Qualified
  2. Does your company match your contribution and at what percentage?
  3. What is the vesting at your company? How long does it take to vest to 100%
  4. Research Traditional and Roth IRAs.

I will go into more detail in the next post.

Talk to you soon,

(510) 717-0094

Leona@LeonaTurner.com

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I was talking to some business associates yesterday and we were discussing QRPs. QRP is an acronym for Qualified Retirement Plan. I stressed most people know what these are and use them to their full capacity. My colleague said I wouldn’t believe how many do not know what they are or how to use them. I joked I should blog about that very topic. So here I am with a short snippet on QRPs.

Tiburon Golden Gate BridgeI was in a short sale real estate transaction and the lender requested the seller’s 401k (retirement) statement. I was shocked because that rarely happens in the many short sale transactions I’ve been involved in as an agent. The seller was sure he didn’t have one. I pointed out a deduction was being made every paycheck to his 401k account. (Maybe my colleague was correct after all.) It took him a while to get it to me since he never viewed it online and had no username or password.

401k_eggOnce I had it in hand, I decided to take a peek. His 401k had different options for allocation (where to place the balance of funds deposited). Normally, there are options for all levels of risk: low, high, medium, a money market fund (similar to a savings account) and a stock purchase (depending on the type of company you’re working for). Anyway back to my seller, most of his money was in the lowest performing least risk option. He was younger that I was and if it were me I would put more into high risk, stocks and some in my money market. I would try to make the most money I could In higher performing allocations while I was young and could still make the money back if I were hit with a large loss in the stock market. As I am aging I would go for a more moderate risk. I felt bad that he had no idea what was going on in his financial life. How many others out there are heading for a scary retirement because they didn’t make the most of their retirement while they were young?

I wish I would have read a blog like this when I was in my 20s because I would have make significant changes. I remember working for a large banking institution. I was 21 or so and not very financially savvy. My employer XYZ Bank put me into a 401k plan once I became a salaried employee. I received my first quarterly statement and I was totally confused. How dare they take money out of my account? Typical 20 year old, right? And then retirement was the furthest thing from my mind.

401KThen I started comparing my statement to others in my department. My supervisor had a lot of money in hers but I also noticed every quarter it was increasing substantially. So I asked her what she was doing to make her account grow rapidly. She looked at my allocations and let me know that putting more money in would help but also changing my allocation. By putting a larger amount in something with a higher payout and increased risk, I would see a substantial change. Then I asked should I change my allocation since this is where the company placed me. She said companies start everyone in an allocation that involved the least risk. Based upon our own research, we can change our allocation however we desire. Once I made the changes I saw a whole new world by the next quarter. I was making a lot more money every quarter.

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Your employer may offer you a 401k, 403b, etc to make tax free deposit for retirement.
  2. You should have a statement at minimum quarterly. Otherwise find out how to access your account online.
  3. Make sure your money is diversified (spread into different sections) and not lumped into one account.
  4. If you are self-employed, look at SEP-IRA, Roth IRA or Keogh.
  5. Do not withdraw funds before you are 59 and ½ years old to avoid fees and penalties.
  6. Under some circumstances you can take a loan against your retirement account to make a home purchase or an emergency.

I will go into more detail in the next post.

Talk to you soon,

(510) 717-0094

Leona@LeonaTurner.com

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