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Are You Holding a Retirement Time Bomb?

by Jason on January 11, 2010

401ks have been around for years and have been an ever increasingly popular way to save money for retirement.

More and more businesses run some type of deferred contribution plan and they are a great way to attract and retain key employees.

401ks are great from an employee standpoint because they are relatively quick to sign up for, fairly easy to pick funds in and once the initial set up has been done, your contributions are taken out of your paycheck automatically.

It’s an easy way to save.

But, did you know that by contributing to your 401k you could be creating a giant time bomb?  Here’s a look at why:

What is a tax deferred account?

A tax deferred account is simply an account that allows you to put in pre-tax contributions for retirement.  The money inside grows without having to pay taxes every single year – they are deferred until some time down the road.

Things like 401ks and IRAs and for small business owners – Simple IRAs and SEP IRAs are examples of tax-deferred accounts.

What is a retirement time bomb?

A retirement time bomb is when you put all or most of your retirement savings into these tax-defferred accounts like 401ks and Traditional IRAs.

When you get into retirement and start withdrawing your money, you have to pay taxes on every single dollar you pull out!

At what rate?

It depends, but the money you pull out is taxed as ordinary income, which means for those of you who think your taxes will go down in retirement – you might be in for a big surprise when all of that money is taxed as though you earned it!

For those of you who have socked away a lot of money into tax-deferred accounts for retirement – these have become a ticking time bomb waiting to explode!

And Uncle Sam is licking his chops!

What should you do about it?

  1. Figure out how much you need for retirement
  2. Re-evaluate your accounts – determine if you are properly balanced from a tax perspective
  3. Consider other options – look at accounts like Roth IRAs to detemine if it’s right for you.
  4. Make a plan to diversify from a tax perspective – figure out how muchyou can get into a tax-free bucket and start shifting money either through contributions or Roth Conversions.

What about you?

Are you holding a retirement time bomb?  What have you done to diversify yourself from a tax standpoint?

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