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Taking Your Retirement Savings Beyond the 401(k)

What you'll learn: Where else you can put retirement money besides a 401(k)


If you’re contributing to your employer’s 401(k), you may think your retirement planning is done—but you may want to consider doing more to build your retirement fund, depending on your circumstances and time to retirement.

Here are a few reasons you might want to consider investing beyond your 401(k) in order to maximize your retirement fund:

  • If you’re contributing more than your employer matches. Many companies match your contributions up to a point, and while it’s worth getting those extra contributions, you may not be making the most of your money by adding more.
  • If your 401(k) plan has high fees for managing your money.
  • If you want more control over how your money is invested. While most 401(k) plans offer you some options, they often don’t have the same flexibility of investing on your own.

Build an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

If you’re looking to build extra retirement savings, it is important to consider an IRA. It’s a straightforward way to save—you put money into the account, it earns interest, and you take money out to live on when you retire.

There are two kinds of IRAs which offer different tax benefits: a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.

Traditional IRA. A traditional IRA is similar to a traditional 401(k) in that you do not pay taxes on any money you contribute to the account. This makes it ideal for cutting your tax burden now—but remember, you’ll have to pay taxes on the money when you take it out.

Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on the money you contribute now, but do not pay taxes when you take it out later—making it useful for keeping your expenses low in retirement.

Which IRA plan you choose depends on how much you’re paying in taxes now and how much you expect to pay for taxes after retirement. If you think you’ll pay more in taxes now than you will at retirement, you’ll likely want a traditional IRA—but if you think you’ll pay less, a Roth IRA may be a better bet. The best choice for you depends completely on your individual situation.

In either case, you can only contribute a relatively small amount ($5,500 per year if you’re under age 50 and $6,500 per year if you’re over age 50—effective tax year 2016). That’s a good start to a nice retirement nest egg, but it’s probably not enough to cover your full retirement costs—so it’s only part of a solid retirement plan.

Get Started with Investing

Investing may seem intimidating—or risky—but it doesn’t have to be. There are a range of investment opportunities out there to fit your financial needs. But bear in mind that risk isn’t a dirty word: investments with some risk have a chance for higher rewards. Depending on your risk tolerance, you may want a few higher risk investments in your portfolio to keep it growing.

Stocks. **When you think about investing, you probably think about buying stocks. While you could pick out your favorite company and toss all of your investment money into it, a diverse portfolio is probably a better idea—and it will help you ride out the stock market’s ups and downs.

If you are not up to trying to pick out high performers yourself, consider investing in a mutual fund, index fund, or ETF (exchange traded fund), all of which offer a diverse selection of stocks. In addition to stock prices, another consideration is dividends; an amount paid to the stockholder by the business for owning stock—which can offer extra income opportunities.

Laddering bonds and CDs. ***These are very different types of investments: you pay a fixed amount up-front for the promise of a specified return on the bond’s maturity date, which makes bonds and CDs (certificates of deposit) predictable moneymakers. This predictability makes them great for “laddering” by investing in bonds or CDs (or a mix of both) with different maturity dates.

Staggering the maturity date (for example, making a five-year ladder by buying CDs that mature in one, two, three, four, and five years), offers regular income and keeps your investment money from being tied up in case you need it. When your bond or CD matures, either take the cash to use as needed, or reinvest it. If we go by our example, you’d invest in another five-year CD so you continue to have annual investment income—allowing you to continue your ladder.

What PenFed Can Do For You

If you want to make your money do more but are not sure where to start, PenFed Wealth Management available through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., can help.

Whatever your financial investment goals are, PenFedInvest can offer the advice to help you reach them.


*PENFED WEALTH MANAGEMENT Advisors are registered representatives of CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. Securities sold, advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor. CBSI is under contract with financial institution to make securities available to members. Not NCUA/NCUSIF/FDIC insured, May Lose Value, No financial institution guarantee. Not a deposit of any financial institution.

**Investors should be aware that there are risks inherent in all investments, such as fluctuations in investment principal. This is particularly true for mutual funds.

***Bonds are subject to interest rate risk. When interest rates rise, bond prices fall. Generally the longer a bond’s maturity, the more sensitive it is to this risk. Bonds may also be subject to call risk, which allows the issuer to retain the right to redeem the debt, fully or partially, before the scheduled maturity date. Please see prospectus for full details.