How to Maintain your Retirement Plan if Finances Change Due to A Job Loss or Change

Whether planned or unplanned, job changes can bring excitement, uncertainty, and hope for the future. If you are considering a change in your career this upcoming year or want to be prepared in case of a future job loss, your retirement plan is an essential factor to consider. How can you maintain your savings for life after retirement when your situation changes?

Although the uncertainty can be intimidating, it’s best not to cash out your retirement savings. If you have a dual-income household or an emergency fund, it’s best to rely on those first. As for your retirement plan, you have several options for maintaining or moving your savings. Here are a few of your options and what you should consider for each! 

If you’re finding yourself amid a job change and need support in your new financial situation, reach out to an advisor today! 

Keep Your Previous Employer’s Plan

While you won’t be able to make further contributions, some employers may allow you to maintain your retirement plan account. If you are happy with the plan’s investment options, this would be your most convenient choice.

However, we would still recommend this as a temporary option only, such as in the transition period between your previous job and a new one. If your last employer chooses to make changes to the plan down the line, you will not have easy access for questions or changes of your own. 

It’s also important to consider the vesting, or owning, of any retirement funds. If your previous employer contributes matching funds to your 401(k), the money typically vests over time. If you’re not fully vested when you leave or change jobs, you’ll only keep part of the match. If you are one of our retirement plan participants, reach out to us if you have questions about your employer’s vesting schedule. 

Put Your Retirement Savings into a Rollover IRA

If you are fired or laid off from your job, you can move the money from your 401k account to an IRA without paying any income taxes on it. This is known as a “rollover IRA” account.

With a rollover IRA, you will often have access to a wider range of investment options than you would have as a participant in an employer’s plan. Depending on where you invest, you may also save on administrative fees, which can add up over time. There are three primary options when rolling over a 401(k) into an IRA:

  • Traditional IRA rolloverYou will not have to pay taxes when you move the money, and any new earnings will accumulate tax deferred. You will only pay taxes on withdrawals.
  • Rolling over your Roth 401(k) to Roth IRA: A traditional 401(k) is funded with pretax dollars, and a Roth 401(k) is funded with after-tax money. If you roll over a Roth 401(k) to a Roth IRA, you won’t have to pay taxes, and any new earnings will accumulate tax-free under certain conditions. After five years, or when you reach age 59 ½,  earnings are eligible for tax-free withdrawals.
  • Roth conversion: You can also choose to roll over all or part of your previous 401(k) directly to a Roth IRA. One difference between a traditional and Roth rollover is you must pay taxes on the money you convert because Roth retirement accounts are funded with after-tax dollars. After five years, or when you reach age 59 ½,  earnings are eligible for tax-free withdrawals.

Transfer Your Current Savings Into a New Employer’s Plan

Whether you have a job lined up or are still searching, many companies will allow you to move your previous 401(k) into its qualified retirement plan. In this instance, you won’t be required to pay any taxes or penalties. 

It is contingent on how much you currently have in your previous retirement account. If it’s less than $5,000, you may be required to transfer that money out. If it’s less than $1,000, your employer might just write you a check for the current amount. If you deposit the check into your new employer’s 401(k) plan or an IRA within 60 days, you can avoid paying taxes on the money. 

Depending on what your new employer offers, there may be multiple options available with different ways to contribute to your financial and retirement goals. For questions about which plan is right for you, contact us to meet with an advisor. 

Pros and Cons of 401(k) Retirement Accounts

A 401(k) retirement plan is a powerful retirement savings tool when taken advantage of. These retirement plans are backed by federal legal protection, so you can receive payments and certain benefits even if the plan is mismanaged or terminated. It’s also protected from creditors, so they cannot tap into your 401(k) if they are seeking repayment for a loan. 

Many employers that offer a retirement plan also pay matching contributions, increasing your account value at no extra cost. Most retirement plans have an automatic escalation feature and high annual contribution limits so that you can set yourself up for a worry-free retirement with the right saving strategy. 

On the other hand, 401(k) plans usually offer fewer investment options and are determined by your employer. Sometimes this even includes high management and administrative fees.

Pros and Cons of IRA Retirement Accounts

IRA accounts offer a wider variety of investment options, which allows you to have more control over your money. You can choose between Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs, and Roth IRAs do not have required minimum distributions (RMDs). 

Although rollovers from a 401(k) to IRA are protected in bankruptcy, protection from other types of creditors varies by circumstances and state. You cannot borrow money from IRA accounts like you can with some 401(k) plans. 

Lastly, traditional IRAs require you to take minimum distributions beginning at age 72. Many people can consider this an inconvenience if they do not want to start accessing and paying taxes on these funds. 

Retirement Planning with Sovereign Financial

Retirement doesn’t look the same for everyone, and retirement planning doesn’t either. We can help translate your current situation and goals for retirement into a strategy that fits your needs, budget, and values.

To talk about your retirement plan options, reach out to us today!

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