Wealth Column: How to boost 401(k) contributions without busting your paycheck
Stop us if you’ve heard this one. As financial advisers, we always recommend you, max out your 401(k) or 403(b) contrib…
Oh, you have heard that one.
Yeah, you know the spiel. When you max out, you are investing income now, pretax, that can form the basis of your retirement down the road. But finding $19,500, or $26,000 if you’re over 50 is easier said than done.
Fortunately, there are ways to increase income into your 401(k) without losing a penny of your paycheck, depending on your circumstances.
Get a raise? Raise your contribution.
Many companies offer annual raises, or at least cost of living adjustments. That extra 2% or 3% might not seem like much, especially distributed over a couple dozen pay periods, but they can have an enormous impact on your retirement.
You’ve probably found that you don’t really miss the income you set aside for your 401(k). You’ve budgeted it in, and you’ve accounted for it. Same principle applies. Unless you have foreseeable increases in your monthly budget, set aside your raise each year to prepare for the future while paying your bills now.
Turn that windfall into a nest egg
You depend on your regular paycheck to pay your bills. In fact, you probably have direct deposit set up, and might even have automatic bill pay set up for your bank account. You can go weeks without seeing any of your own money.
But sometimes, some good fortune comes along. Perhaps you scored a side gig from an old colleague, and are getting some extra money outside of normal work hours. Perhaps you got a quarterly performance bonus. Maybe you got more than you expected on your tax return.
While it might be tempting to spend that windfall on a vacation or new furniture, consider using it to give you financial flexibility down the road. Instead of a free trip, call it free peace of mind.
Use tax-deferred options as a supplement
If you are at the height of your career and using the Roth option, consider switching to a traditional 401(k) or 403(b). Why? When you defer the tax on your income until you withdraw it, you’ll be taking it back out when you are in a lower tax bracket. That means you’re putting money away before you pay tax on it, which means you are keeping your paycheck the same.
Of course, not every situation is the same. Knowing how and when to take advantage of these options depends on your financial goals. Talk with an experienced adviser to set your goals and assess your investment performance against them.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on News Radio 830 WCCO on Sunday mornings. Email Bruce and Peg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Wealth Enhancement Group and Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services are separate entities from LPL.