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Hello, Money Scoop! I am a part time employee with a 401(k) from my previous job that no longer saves. My current job does not offer any savings plan options. Should I move my money from my old 401(k) to a Roth IRA so I can continue building retirement savings?—Part-Time Worker, Full-Time Saver
Rolling your 401(k) into an IRA is a smart move. You’ll have more control over where you invest your money and can choose investments that better reflect your long-term financial goals and the level of risk you’re willing to take as you prepare for the future. You may also be able to access investments with lower expense ratios than those offered by your former employer-sponsored retirement plan.
That said, be aware that rolling over your 401(k) to a Roth IRA may have an additional tax burden. Most 401(k) plans are tax-deferred, allowing you to invest in pre-tax income now, getting more bang for your buck, and pay taxes when you take distributions or withdraw them later.
Roth IRAs, on the other hand, are not tax-deferred. In exchange for paying taxes on your earnings before you keep them in your Roth IRA, you’re allowed to withdraw that earnings at any time, for any reason. (Withdrawing the growth you’ve earned in your Roth IRA is trickier. In most cases, you’ll incur taxes and penalties if you try to withdraw your earnings early, so it’s best to leave that portion of your retirement fund alone until you’re ready to retire. )
If you want to roll over your 401(k) to a Roth IRA, be prepared to pay taxes on every dollar you roll over. If you prefer to wait and pay taxes until after retirement, consider rolling over your 401(k) to a traditional IRA. Both are great options to help you build retirement savings.—Nicole Dicker, guest columnist for Money Scoop