Finding a way to live decades in retirement without worrying about running out of money can seem like an overwhelming task. That goal depends on many variables and assumptions. If you’re wrong on even one of those variables, funding your retirement could be in danger.
With all the potential for missteps, what is the one mistake you want to avoid at all costs? Dipping into your retirement savings. Unfortunately, since the funds in your 401(k) plan or individual retirement account (IRA) belong to you, they often seem like a tempting place to get funds needed for other purposes.
Tax laws don’t help, since they often provide tax-advantaged ways for you to access those funds. Loans from 401(k) plans are not taxable events. When leaving an employer, you can withdraw money from your 401(k) plan (you will have to pay income taxes and possibly a 10% early withdrawal penalty). Contributions to Roth IRAs can be withdrawn at any time with no tax consequences. Withdrawals from traditional IRAs before the age of 59 ½ can be made under certain circumstances, such as to purchase a home or to pay for a child’s college education, without paying the 10% tax penalty.
Saving for retirement is a difficult task for most people, without making it more difficult by using retirement funds for other purposes. Even if the amount seems small, don’t withdraw funds from your retirement account. While it probably won’t add significantly to your lifestyle now, it can grow to significant sums over the long term. For instance, assume you have $10,000 in your 401(k) plan. If you withdraw the funds and are in the 25% tax bracket, you’ll have $6,500 left after paying income taxes and the 10% federal tax penalty. Keep the funds invested earning 8% annually on a tax-deferred basis, and your funds could grow to $100,627 after 30 years, before paying any income tax. (This example is provided for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to project the performance of a specific investment.)
No matter how much you think you need the money now, don’t touch your retirement funds for anything other than retirement. Please call if you’d like to discuss this in more detail.
Copyright © Integrated Concepts 2012. Some articles in this newsletter were prepared by Integrated Concepts, a separate, nonaffiliated business entity. This newsletter intends to offer factual and up-to-date information on the subjects discussed, but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. The appropriate professional advisers should be consulted before implementing any options presented. No party assumes liability for any loss or damage resulting from errors or omissions or reliance on or use of this material.