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    401k vs Roth 401k

    Hello guys and girls,

    I am new to the forum but have been browsing the forum for quite some time. I figured it's about time to see what kind of great advice I can get from all of you! Lengthy but please bare with me.

    My job offers both traditional 401k and a roth 401k options. They do match match up to 5%, I am contributing 8%. I have been contributing to the traditional 401k pre tax for roughly 4 years. I have been hearing a lot of great things about a roth 401k and I am strongly considering changing up my contributions. My question is this, if you were in my shoes at 24 years old would you change your contributions to a roth 401k or keep it in the traditional? Or contribute to both? I am really green when it comes to this kind of stuff but I really want to take full advantage and get the full potential out of this while I'm young.

    On top of all above, here are my options of investments choices that my company has to offer. Which of the options below would you put your contributions in if you were in my position?

    Target Date Funds
    Bright Horizon Income Fund
    Bright Horizon 2010 Fund
    Bright Horizon 2015 Fund
    Bright Horizon 2020 Fund
    Bright Horizon 2025 Fund
    Bright Horizon 2030 Fund
    Bright Horizon 2035 Fund
    Bright Horizon 2040 Fund
    Bright Horizon 2045 Fund
    Bright Horizon 2050 Fund
    Bright Horizon 2055 Fund
    Short Term Funds
    Government STIF
    Short-Term Bond Index Fund
    Bonds
    Bond Market Index Fund
    Multi Assest
    Global Diversified Asset Fund
    Strategic Real Asset Fund
    Stocks
    S&P 500 Equity Index Fund
    S&P 400 Midcap Index Fund
    Russell 2000 Index Fund
    Intl Developed Cntry Eqty Index Fd
    MSCI Emerging Markets Fund
    UPS Stock Fund

    I certainly appreciate any and all input and advice. I really do appreciate each and everyone of you taking the time to read and help me better my future. Thank you.

    Regards

    Corey

    #2
    We do both traditional pre-tax 401k and post-tax Roth IRA.

    The pre-tax 401k gives you the advantage of minimizing your taxable exposure by making your taxable income look less than it really is. The downside is that, generally speaking, it is more difficult to modify contributions as quickly as you might want, since the mechanics of moving the money out of your payroll pre-tax are automated.

    The Roth has the advantage of being more "voluntary" if you'd like it to be. So if you're sailing along and end up with a small pile of money (sell a car, get a gift, etc.), you can transfer it or parts of it into the Roth when convenient. You can also have automatic contributions from your post-tax payroll.

    Personally, we leave our 401k contributions constant year to year, and allow ourselves to throttle our contributions to the Roths depending upon our current financial situation.

    Comment


      #3
      The investment options are one question to focus on

      The Roth vs regular 401k is a different question, with a different thought process.

      The 8% contribution (and 5% match) is a third different question with a different thought process.

      I want to answer the second and third question with a math example.
      http://fairmark.com/general-taxation...ate-schedules/

      If you make $36,900 or more (single) or $73800 (married), I would strongly focus on the math to answer this question. The answer to 2 and 3 above could be linked, but many here can simplify it down. I think more detail is better.

      The numbers above ($36900 and $73800) are the top portions of the 15% tax bracket. Any dollar you earn above these amounts is taxed at 25%. The Roth is GREAT if you are taxed at 15%, it is good to OK if you are taxed at 25%. If you are taxed at 28% or higher, I would strongly swing towards taking a tax deduction now (saves you $2800 for every $10,000 contributed) and also look to increase savings from 8% towards 20% contribution/savings rate levels.

      For one example, I am going to assume you are married and your gross income is $90,000 per year. Keep in mind taxable income and gross income are very very different.

      If you are contributing 8% of gross pay, you are contributing $7200 per year (pre-tax). This lowers your taxable income to $82,800. Since $82800 is above $73800, the $7200 contribution is saving you 25% in taxes ($1800 per year).

      If you do that same math and only earn $75,000 gross pay (with 8% contribution), the math is much different. $75,000 gross, 8% contribution is $6000 total. This means taxable income is lowered to $69,000 and this is below the 15% bracket cap of $73800. The difference between these numbers is about $4000, this means you are saving only 15% of the $4000 in taxes ($600).

      I would then take the second example, and split the contribution, the first $2000 should be contributed pre-tax, then the remaining $4000 should be Roth. Because a 401k uses percentages of income, you need to know $2000/$75,000=3% and the remaining 5% should be a Roth contribution.

      The goal should be a tax return where you are just under the 15% bracket cap on line 43 of form 1040 you file on April 15. This means you are optimizing the Roth-Traditional 401k choice.

      I have both options at work, and I contribute 10% to both traditional 401k and 10% to Roth 401k, and adjust percentage up or down depending on bonuses, my tax return, and the IRS tax brackets changing.
      Last edited by jIM_Ohio; 01-21-2014, 11:52 AM.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by jIM_Ohio View Post
        The investment options are one question to focus on

        The Roth vs regular 401k is a different question, with a different thought process.

        The 8% contribution (and 5% match) is a third different question with a different thought process.

        I want to answer the second and third question with a math example.

        If you make $36,900 or more (single) or $73800 (married), I would strongly focus on the math to answer this question. The answer to 2 and 3 above could be linked, but many here can simplify it down. I think more detail is better.

        The numbers above ($36900 and $73800) are the top portions of the 15% tax bracket. Any dollar you earn above these amounts is taxed at 25%. The Roth is GREAT if you are taxed at 15%, it is good to OK if you are taxed at 25%. If you are taxed at 28% or higher, I would strongly swing towards taking a tax deduction now (saves you $2800 for every $10,000 contributed) and also look to increase savings from 8% towards 20% contribution/savings rate levels.

        For one example, I am going to assume you are married and your gross income is $90,000 per year. Keep in mind taxable income and gross income are very very different.

        If you are contributing 8% of gross pay, you are contributing $7200 per year (pre-tax). This lowers your taxable income to $82,800. Since $82800 is above $73800, the $7200 contribution is saving you 25% in taxes ($1800 per year).

        If you do that same math and only earn $75,000 gross pay (with 8% contribution), the math is much different. $75,000 gross, 8% contribution is $6000 total. This means taxable income is lowered to $69,000 and this is below the 15% bracket cap of $73800. The difference between these numbers is about $4000, this means you are saving only 15% of the $4000 in taxes ($600).

        I would then take the second example, and split the contribution, the first $2000 should be contributed pre-tax, then the remaining $4000 should be Roth. Because a 401k uses percentages of income, you need to know $2000/$75,000=3% and the remaining 5% should be a Roth contribution.

        The goal should be a tax return where you are just under the 15% bracket cap on line 43 of form 1040 you file on April 15. This means you are optimizing the Roth-Traditional 401k choice.

        I have both options at work, and I contribute 10% to both traditional 401k and 10% to Roth 401k, and adjust percentage up or down depending on bonuses, my tax return, and the IRS tax brackets changing.
        Very good information, yet somewhat confusing information for a rookie like myself! It is just going to take a little to soak it HAHA! I am just going to put it out there. I am single and I am in the 15% tax bracket. I am currently part time and make between 27,000 to 30,000 salary, depending on bonus's. With that being said where would you take your contributions from there? Again I do appreciate your input

        Corey

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by perdue022 View Post

          Originally Posted by jIM_Ohio View Post
          The investment options are one question to focus on

          The Roth vs regular 401k is a different question, with a different thought process.

          The 8% contribution (and 5% match) is a third different question with a different thought process.

          I want to answer the second and third question with a math example.

          If you make $36,900 or more (single) or $73800 (married), I would strongly focus on the math to answer this question. The answer to 2 and 3 above could be linked, but many here can simplify it down. I think more detail is better.

          The numbers above ($36900 and $73800) are the top portions of the 15% tax bracket. Any dollar you earn above these amounts is taxed at 25%. The Roth is GREAT if you are taxed at 15%, it is good to OK if you are taxed at 25%. If you are taxed at 28% or higher, I would strongly swing towards taking a tax deduction now (saves you $2800 for every $10,000 contributed) and also look to increase savings from 8% towards 20% contribution/savings rate levels.

          For one example, I am going to assume you are married and your gross income is $90,000 per year. Keep in mind taxable income and gross income are very very different.

          If you are contributing 8% of gross pay, you are contributing $7200 per year (pre-tax). This lowers your taxable income to $82,800. Since $82800 is above $73800, the $7200 contribution is saving you 25% in taxes ($1800 per year).

          If you do that same math and only earn $75,000 gross pay (with 8% contribution), the math is much different. $75,000 gross, 8% contribution is $6000 total. This means taxable income is lowered to $69,000 and this is below the 15% bracket cap of $73800. The difference between these numbers is about $4000, this means you are saving only 15% of the $4000 in taxes ($600).

          I would then take the second example, and split the contribution, the first $2000 should be contributed pre-tax, then the remaining $4000 should be Roth. Because a 401k uses percentages of income, you need to know $2000/$75,000=3% and the remaining 5% should be a Roth contribution.

          The goal should be a tax return where you are just under the 15% bracket cap on line 43 of form 1040 you file on April 15. This means you are optimizing the Roth-Traditional 401k choice.

          I have both options at work, and I contribute 10% to both traditional 401k and 10% to Roth 401k, and adjust percentage up or down depending on bonuses, my tax return, and the IRS tax brackets changing.
          Very good information, yet somewhat confusing information for a rookie like myself! It is just going to take a little to soak it HAHA! I am just going to put it out there. I am single and I am in the 15% tax bracket. I am currently part time and make between 27,000 to 30,000 salary, depending on bonus's. With that being said where would you take your contributions from there? Again I do appreciate your input

          Corey
          Your answers are in green/bold above.

          Your income is likely in 10% or 15% tax bracket. The Roth for you now is a great move.
          You are young and not paying much in taxes now, so paying tax before contributing makes sense, as you earn more (and get more taxes) you might benefit from the traditional 401k option. I would put all 8% into the Roth, and realize this will reduce your take home pay. I think over year you will see take home reduce by about $500. Not sure what your state taxes are, so that number could go up.

          Comment

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