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HomeTips401A VS 401K: How To Select The Appropriate Retirement Plan For You

401A VS 401K: How To Select The Appropriate Retirement Plan For You

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According to the Centre for Disease Control, the average retirement age is 65. However, people live past this age, sometimes for two more decades, and still require active living. You may want to tour countries, pay off your mortgage, send your kids to school, settle your medical bills and generally afford a comfortable life. Although, a comfortable retirement doesn’t just happen. To enjoy financial security after retirement requires deliberate retirement planning.

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Retirement planning is the process of identifying your retirement goals and coming up with financial strategies to meet them. One of the strategies is choosing a good retirement plan. There are different types of retirement plans to choose from. Each plan may differ in tax considerations, annual contributions, investment, and withdrawal. For example, the 401A vs 401k.

It’s vital that you have a comprehensive understanding of the different types of retirement plans, how they work, and how to choose the right one for you. Keep reading to learn more.

How To Choose The Right Retirement Plan

The first step of choosing a retirement plan is understanding your options. Here are some of the retirement plans you can choose from:

1. 401A Plan

The 401A plan is a retirement plan offered by non-profit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions to its employees. For this plan, the employer sets the contribution amount and the schedule for contributing. However, both the employee and the employer must contribute to the retirement savings.

It’s also the role of the employer to determine how the savings will be invested, making the 401A retirement plan quite limiting. Most government agencies tend to invest in conservative investment options. Therefore, if you’re in any of the organizations mentioned above, the 401A plan is a retirement plan option

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2. 401k Plan

401k is a retirement plan for people in the private sector. For the traditional 401k plan, the employee contributes a pre-taxed amount to the savings plan. The savings grow in the account while remaining tax-free until their withdrawal at retirement, where the total amount is taxed. However, should you withdraw the money before retirement, it would also be subject to tax.

On the other hand, the contributions are taxed for the current Roth 401kplan, but the gains they accrue aren’t subject to any tax. But, like the traditional 401k plan, the accrued gains will be taxable if you withdraw the money before retirement.

When using this retirement plan, the employee decides how much they will contribute, and the employer matches at least a portion of the employer’s contribution. Although, it’s the prerogative of the employer to choose an investment option for the saved money. Most 401k plans offer 15- 30 investment options.

With the introduction of the secure Act of 2019, employees are set to have more annuity plans offered as investments through the 401k plan. The secure Act protects the employer from being sued by an employee should the insurer fail to make the annuity payments to the employee.

401A Vs 401K

Due to their names, these two types of retirement plan often cause confusion to a lot of people. For starters, note that 401A Vs 401k plan adopted their name from the USA Internal Revenue Code, which defines them. Similarly, both types of plans are offered by employers. However, the two have key differences, as seen below:

1. The government and non-profit organizationsnon-profit organizations offer the 401A plan while the private sector offers the 401K plan.

2. It’s a must for employers and employee to take part in the 401A plan, while for the 401k plan, it’s not mandatory.

3. For the 401A plan, the employer determines the contributions, while for the 401k plan, the employee decides how much to contribute.

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A Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

With this retirement account, your contributions aren’t taxed, neither are the gains up until withdrawal during retirement. The traditional IRA is a very popular plan among workers because of tax benefits and many investment options, including bonds, real estate, and stocks. However, it’s your responsibility to decide your preferred investment option. For that reason, it’s recommended that you consult with an expert before investing your money.

The only downside to this type of plan is that withdrawing the savings before retirement can be quite costly due to the taxes imposed on the amount. That’s why you have to think through before deciding on settling for a traditional IRA account.

The Roth IRA

As discussed before, the contributions for this plan are subject to tax, but if the amount is withdrawn during retirement, tax exemption would apply. The Roth IRA can be an option for people with disability, because they can maximize their privilege for tax exemptions.

Unlike the traditional IRA, you can withdraw contributions made in the Roth IRA. However, the earnings accrued can’t be withdrawn.


The SIMPLE IRA retirement plan works just like the 401kplan, except it’s meant for small businesses and self-employed people. For SIMPLE IRA, all employees earn equal benefits compared to 401k where the employees’ contributions are based on their earnings.

With the SIMPLE IRA plan, an employee can choose how much they want to contribute, or opt to not contribute at all. The employer, however, has to contribute either 3% or 2% to match the employee’s contribution even if they aren’t contributing at all. As of 2022, employers have a limit of up to USD$14,000 contributions, which is low compared to USD$20,500 for other types of plans.


This account is also meant for small businesses and self-employed people. Only the employer can open the account, even though it belongs to the employee.

The downside to this account is that the retirement savings can easily be accessed and withdrawn before retirement.


A SOLO 401K plan is suited for self-employed people and their spouses. However, you can’t use this retirement plan if you have employees.

With this account, you can choose to contribute as both an employer and an employee. This kind of plan helps in increasing your retirement savings. As of 2022, the total contributions as an employee and employer shouldn’t exceed USD$61,000 for people below 50 years and USD$67,500 for people above 50.

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Factors To Consider When Choosing A Retirement Plan

Choosing A Retirement Plan   Appropriate Retirement Plan

Now that you have a better understanding of the retirement plan option to choose from, here are some factors you should consider when choosing your plan:

1. Age of Retirement

Not everyone retires at 65. Some people choose early retirement while others work late into their 70s. Your age of retiring is very crucial because it determines how much you will need to have a comfortable life. If you retire early, you will need more money to last you during retirement. On the other hand, if you retire late, you will need less money since you’ll have significantly reduced the number of years you’ll spend after retiring.

2. What Are Your Retirement Goals

As mentioned, life doesn’t end upon retirement. If anything, those 20 years or more could be the most beautiful experience if planned well. To achieve this, you have to identify how you would like to retire. Here are some essential questions you need to ask yourself before planning your retirement.

  • Where do you want to live when you retire?
  • Do you have a retirement home?
  • Do you want to tour the world?

3. Debts

As you’re planning to retire, recall all your debts. Whether they are loans, mortgages, or even peer-to-peer lending. Paying off these loans can be pretty challenging when you’re no longer working. Once you have calculated your debt, add it to the sum of money you will need to retire comfortably, then start working for the amount.

Start Planning Today

Retirement planning is a lifelong process. The earlier you start, the better planning you can achieve. Consider the plans discussed above and the factors that come with it as you plan to have a blissful retirement.

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