According to the experts, most Americans between 40 and 60 are behind in saving for retirement. Arguably, it’s never too early to start saving. The sooner you start building your nest egg, the more secure you will be in your elderly years.

Introducing The 401a

Whereas the 401k is for private workers, the 401a is mainly for government employees. This plan is also used by college staff and other education institution workers. Considering the relatively large size of the public sector, the 401a is enormously important for the well-being of the nation. When it comes to retirement savings plans, the 401k is the most well-known option. The 401a is a similar plan that has helped millions of people achieve financial security for life. Like the 401k, the 401a is a savings plan that relies on the power of safe investing.

Minimizing Your Investment Risk

Both 401 investment plans allow you to designate your own preferred level of market risk.

Despite what you may think, investing encompasses a lot more than just buying stock. Savers so inclined can invest in municipal bonds and annuities, which are relatively stable. Generally speaking, 401a investment options are less risky than their 401k counterparts. As with 401k holders, 401a holders must pay penalties if they withdraw retirement funds early.

Contributors to the 401a

When you have a 401a, it is mandatory for your employer to make regular contributions. This rule helps ensure that relatively few government workers enter their retirement years without means to support themselves. It is up to you to decide if you want to contribute to your 401a as well. Crucially, the IRS won’t tax your 401a contributions until after you retire. This allows you to fully take advantage of compound interest, the main tool people use to build large fortunes. All in all, you have every reason to contribute as much as you can to your 401a. Because contribution limits can change periodically, consult the IRS or your employer for current limits.

Borrowing From Your Retirement Fund

Both the 401a and the 401k primarily exist to fund your retirement years. However, both plans may allow you to withdraw money to meet immediate needs. You should only borrow from your retirement fund if you have no other viable options. In worst-case scenarios, however, it’s handy to have this resource available. The 401a retirement plan has helped millions of people during desperate times. If borrowing from your 401a is a possibility, you should only take this step soberly and judiciously.

Withdrawal Limits and Penalties

You can withdraw $50,000 of your 401a or half of your total funds, whichever sum is smaller. According to the experts at SoFi Invest, “your employer can limit the amount you borrow from your 401(a) plan and may even choose to not allow you to borrow money at all.” If your company does allow you to borrow sums, you will have to pay the money back to your own account. Though you must pay interest on this loan, you are essentially paying interest to yourself. Six months shy of your 60th birthday, you can start withdrawing sums without paying a 10 percent penalty. Once you are 70, you must start making withdrawals, like it or not.

Other Investment Options

While the 401a and 401k are both highly useful programs, you shouldn’t neglect your other retirement savings options. Even if you’re maxing out your annual 401a contribution, the IRS will allow you to make tax-exempt retirement contributions in other ways. For example, a 401a holder can simultaneously contribute to a 403b and a 457 plan. According to TD Ameritrade, most Americans between 40 and 60 have saved less than $100,000 in retirement funds.

Looking at the Big Picture

Individuals with fewer savings risk facing great hardship during their elder years. Many of these people will have no choice but to continue working into their declining years. To avoid this unfortunate fate, you should make serious retirement plans during your prime working years. After all, you can never know exactly when your health will make working inadvisable. If you have questions about the best way to plan for retirement, you should consider consulting with a financial advisor. By and large, these advisors are committed professionals with great integrity.

Even if you are just starting out your career, you should take saving for retirement seriously. The 401a represents one of the best ways you can save for your future.