There are two types of retirement accounts that allow individuals to save for their future: The Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) – that could be either traditional or Roth- and the 401(k) plan. The first one -IRA- is self-sponsored, this means that there is no need for employers to save for the future, and one can pick between a traditional or Roth IRAs depending on when one wants the income tax savings. On the contrary, the 401(k) is an employer-sponsored plan. This discussion aims to explain the differences between the two and describe which plan is better under different circumstances.
There are many advantages when it comes to IRAs. First, these plans do not depend on employers, so they are great for either full-time or part-time employers when their companies do not offer 401(k) plans. Another advantage is that people have more control over it (Hayes, 2019). For example, they can decide when and where to open their retirement account: whether in an investment company, in a bank, or even in a mutual fund company. In addition, they can choose and control their savings in a freely way
Although IRA has many pros, it also has some cons such as a lower contribution limits. Biberdorf (2019) said, “Sadly, IRAs come with a limitation which encompasses all IRAs you hold. You can contribute up to $6,000/year if you are under 50 years old and $7,000 if you are over 50”. Moreover, these limitations depend on gross income, and whether filing taxes alone or with a spouse. In short, the more you make, the less you contribute. The biggest difference between traditional and Roth IRAs is that traditional is funded with pre-tax money while Roth is funded with after-tax. For example, in a Roth IRA, taxes are not deductible at the moment of retirement. On the other side, traditional IRAs contributions are tax deductible in the year that they are made. Another disadvantage include that individuals may not be eligible to get an IRA if their income are too high.
In addition, 401(k) plans are employer-sponsored based on matching, and they are tax-deductible. In this type of plan, employers deduct the money from your paychecks and place them into the 401(k) account. Pros of this type of plan includes higher contribution limits and an easy set up. “In 2019 you can contribute up to $19,000/year, and an additional $6,000/year if you are over 50 years old. The thing with 401(k) is that your employer might have a matching policy, meaning that the company matches a certain fraction of your contributions” (Biberdorf, 2019). Furthermore, this type of plan is easy to set up and choose investment options. For instance, employers gets the contribution from their paycheck and they can easily access it online. There are some disadvantages with a 401(k) plan. For instance, less flexibility and possible waiting periods. Employers get to chose the 401(k) provider, so there may be less options and choices for individuals. In addition, some companies require a certain period of time before employees can enroll the 401(k) plan.
I would recommend my friend to enroll in a 401(k) plan if she plans to retire in 40 years. If her company offers this type of plan, I would definitely advise her to enroll it since it provides a higher contribution limit per year. She would get a significant amount of money in 40 years from now. I would also recommend her to start a Roth IRA as well since it is self-sponsored, and taxes would not be deductible when she withdraws her contribution 40 years from now. In short, if she is eligible, she can start both Roth IRA and 401(k) plans to get a boost in her savings for the future.
In the second scenario, my friend already has a significant amount of money saved and he wants to retire in 10 years. I would recommend him to start a traditional IRA. He would be able to lower his current tax bills using this plan. However, his contributions will get restricted until he retires, but it would be for a period of 10 years rather than 40 like in the first scenario. Furthermore, he would get more control and flexibility over his investments, and he would not depend on his employers to choose his retirement plan.
Biberdorf, J. (2019). Traditional IRA vs. roth IRA vs. 401k. Woodlan: Newstex. Retrieved from https://saintleo.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.saintleo.idm.oclc.org/docview/2253717325?accountid=4870
Hayes, A. (2019). 401(k)s vs. IRAs: What are the Pros and Cons?. Retrieved from: https://www.doughroller.net/investing/401ks-vs-iras-what-are-the-pros-and-cons/