What is 401(K)?

A 401(k) plan is a way to save for retirement like a pro. Many people in active service always look forward to retirement. And there is no better time to plan for retirement than when you are still actively making money. But those who do not have anything planned may dread retirement. Either way, it all depends on your choices while you are younger, making money, and full of energy.

Now, humans make plans due to their capacity and the resources within their reach. So, people who wish to plan their retirement have different ways they meet this goal according to what is in their capacity.

Workers may look into employer-based 401(k) as their retirement plan if the employer offers such packages at their workplace.

What is a 401(k)?

A 401(k) is a type of retirement plan that American employers offer their employees. It takes the form of savings in a tax-advantaged account.

This retirement plan got its name from the United States internal revenue code, which also is an encouragement from the States congress for workers to save for retirement.

Besides, if such plans are not in place, many workers may not come around to put anything together when they leave active service.

At the workplace, the offer is open to employees, those who show interest will sign off a part of their salaries to be saved.

Furthermore, 401(k) comes in two types; the traditional 401(k) and the Roth 401(k). 

What makes them different from each other is the way each is related to tax. Some organizations may offer either of them or have options for both plans.

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On the other hand, some employees may choose one they think is more favorable, while some will decide to maintain both plans.

Types of the 401(k) plan

The two types of 401(k) are still open to employees who wish to save through this method.

The traditional 401(k)

Employees who sign up for the traditional type allow the money to be taken from their salaries before tax deduction. So, the amount left in the pay will become taxable after deducting the retirement contribution.

The Roth 401(k)

It works in the opposite way of the traditional kind. Employees that signed up for the Roth 401(k) pay for their retirement plan after deducting tax from their salaries. This way, they have paid all the taxes that they may incur from the money.

When they finally withdraw the savings, they will not have any need to pay tax from it because they saved from an after-tax income.

How to start a 401(k) plan

Employees, as well as self-employed individuals, can use this opportunity to plan their retirement. However, the best way to go about it is through your employer.

If your employer has this plan for the workers, you will get the documents and sign them while joining the company.

The self-employed who do not earn salaries can open an independent 401(k) and fund it by themselves. The self-employed will have to open the account by themselves through brokers.

How does the 401(k) plan work?

When you get all the documents signed, and your first salary comes, the employer deducts the necessary amount and matches it to the contribution.

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An employer only gets to match the contribution if the employee contributes a significant percentage.

The matching scheme differs among companies; some employers match with two percent or a bit higher.

Again, the employee reserves the right to choose which investment their contribution goes into. A suitable investment helps to grow the money. The money in this type of savings account grows tax-free.

The employee can send any gains from the investment to an Individual Retirement Account. 

When an employee leaves the company, they also leave with the money they contributed from their salary in the 401(k). However, the contributions matched by the employer do not go with them.

Some employers sometimes demand that a worker stays in the company for a period before they take over the employer’s 401(k) contributions. If an employee resigns from the company before then, they will lose the employer’s contributions.

If they stay until the period elapses, they will claim the total contribution and can leave with it whenever they want.

All these are under the company’s employer matching program and sanctioned by the law. The employer matching program is not rigid to one style, meaning that every employer is entitled to what works for them. They decide the amount they have to match to their employee’s contribution and the number of years the employee must work in the company before they can claim the employer part.

This idea helps people prepare for retirement by saving as much as possible without feeling the weight.

Can you withdraw from the 401(k) retirement plan?

Untimely withdrawal from the retirement plan attracts some penalties from the Internal Revenue Code.

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Ultimately, someone who has a 401(k) plan can not withdraw from it until they are 59 years and a half. By then, retirement has begun fully or is about to set in. 

Anyone younger than 59 and a half will have to pay a fine of 10 percent of the withdrawals. The exceptions may be on withdrawals in times of sickness and must not exceed the amount said by the law.

Benefits of having a 401(k)

The primary benefit of this retirement plan is the ability to save without thinking much about tax. Saving for your retirement ordinarily attracts tax and may not be very easy to put money aside.

401(k) provides you with an opportunity to receive help from an employer in your savings and save effortlessly. The thoughts of being broke at old age stop existing, and workers look forward to retirement.


In summary, whether using the employer-based 401(k) or the independent 401(k), saving for retirement is a gift you must give yourself. It may not be weighty now, but when the jobs are gone, and the strength fails, your decision to save at a younger age becomes the much-needed saving grace.

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