Retirement, Investments, & Insurance for Individuals Build your knowledge Will you have enough income for your dream retirement? Investing beyond a 401(k)

Will you have enough income for your dream retirement? Investing beyond a 401(k)

When it comes to saving for retirement, your 401(k) or 403(b) is typically only one piece of the puzzle. Help make sure you’ll have what you need by considering an IRA or annuity.

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5 min read |

Working hard to max out that 401(k)? Great! But here’s the thing: As people live longer, running out of money in retirement is a real possibility. Like Social Security, the 401(k) was never meant to be the end-all-be-all for retirement. Expanding your savings options—investing beyond your 401(k) or 403(b)—can help you save more, so your retirement money can go the distance.

“Money enables choices. Ensure you have what you need to help take worry out of your life,” says Sri Reddy, senior vice president of Retirement and Income Solutions at Principal®.

Below, we’ll explore other retirement savings options, like IRAs and annuities, that can help fill in the gaps.

Retirement savings options

“Think of saving for retirement as a ‘three-legged stool,” Reddy says. It includes:

“Even if you max out your 401(k), it likely won’t be enough to cover what you need in retirement,” Reddy says. If you’re a high earner, annual limits on contributions may mean you can’t save what you need to continue your current lifestyle.

So unless you have a pension or other sources of income to supplement your 401(k), you may want to broaden your portfolio.

One option: Save with an IRA.

There are two primary kinds of individual retirement accounts (IRAs):

  • Traditional IRAs allow you to deduct contributions from your current taxable income.1 Earnings on your investments aren’t taxed as they grow. However, you do pay income tax on money you withdraw (contributions and earnings).2
  • Roth IRAs don't allow you to deduct contributions, because you fund it with money that’s already been taxed. Your qualified withdrawals from your Roth IRA, contributions and earnings, after age 59½, are tax-free.3

Learn more about how retirement accounts are taxed

Another option: Guarantee income with an annuity.

A deferred annuity is another type of tax-deferred investment account that has two main phases:

  • Savings phase: You pay premiums (either as a lump sum or installments) into the annuity.
  • Income phase: When you’re ready to retire, the annuity is converted into guaranteed income payments. Withdrawals of deferred annuity earnings are taxed as ordinary income.2, 4

There are two basic types of deferred annuities:

  • Variable annuities invest in things that go up and down with the market, which means your balance will vary day-to-day.5 These work similarly to a 401(k).
  • “They offer the highest growth potential, and for the risk-adverse client, variable annuities can offer options to protect against market falls,” Reddy says.
  • Fixed annuities provide a guaranteed interest rate for a specific time period (typically three, five, or 10 years). When that time is up, the annuity renews at the market’s current interest rate. Earnings grow tax-deferred.
  • Fixed annuities are more conservative. You’ll get an interest rate you can count on, but you won’t benefit from potential market upswings.

Once you retire and need income, both types of deferred annuities can provide a regular income payment for a certain number of years or for the rest of your life.

Bottom line: Diversifying your sources for retirement savings may help you build your nest egg so you can rest easy (and have fun!) in your next chapter.

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