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Maxing Out Your 401(k)? Alternatives to Consider

Retirement Planning
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African American male on computer researching where to invest after maxing out his 401(k)

Even if you receive matching funds from your employer and enjoy the tax advantages of your 401(k), there's still one caveat to know when using your company's plan: In 2020, you can max out your 401(k) contributions annually at $19,500 or $26,000 for those age 50 and over.

If you're wondering what to do after maxing out your 401(k), here are some options you might consider.

IRAs

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) offer tax features that are similar to a 401(k). With a traditional IRA, like a 401(k), you can deduct contributions on your tax return and enjoy tax-deferred growth while your money remains in the account. It's important to note, however, that the deduction may be limited if you (or your spouse, if you're married) are covered by a retirement plan at work and your income exceeds certain levels. Withdrawals, which you can take penalty-free after age 59 1/2, are then subject to your ordinary income tax rate. You pay taxes when you contribute to a Roth IRA, so qualified distributions are taken tax-free in retirement as long as you are at least age 59 1/2 and have had the account for at least five years.

IRAs can also sometimes offer more flexibility than a 401(k). Many providers allow you to choose among a wide array of vehicles, such as mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), certificates of deposit (CDs) and individual stocks and bonds.

IRAs have contribution limits, too. In 2020, you can contribute up to $6,000 a year, or $7,000 if you're over the age of 50. Those who go over may be subject to a penalty every year the excess contribution remains in their account.

Health Savings Accounts

Perhaps you put money into a health savings account (HSA) to help cover medical expenses. If so, you might consider boosting your contributions once you max out your 401(k). In addition to interest-bearing accounts, some HSA providers let you invest in mutual funds and ETFs that have the potential for greater long-term growth. However, both mutual funds and ETFs are investment vehicles, and therefore can't guarantee growth. They may instead even lose value over time.

Not only are HSA contributions tax-deductible and earnings tax-deferred as they accumulate in your account, but you don't pay any tax when you withdraw the money for qualified expenses. But HSAs aren't open to everyone — you need to have a high-deductible health plan in order to fund an account through your health insurance. If you're eligible, you're allowed to contribute up to $3,550 a year for individual health plans and $7,100 for family plans in 2020.

Brokerage Accounts

If you're pondering what to do after maxing out your 401(k), an IRA or HSA might be useful to you. But since they both have contribution limits of their own, you might consider putting additional money in an account with a brokerage house or another firm that sells financial products. You may not be able to enjoy tax-deductible contributions, but you may have access to a wide range of investment options.

You might still be able to reduce your tax bill by looking for funds with low turnover rates, like index funds and ETFs. Because these funds tend to sell securities less often, they may pass on fewer taxable gains to the investor. In addition, funds like these might have lower annual fees since they don't require active management by the fund provider.

There are many options available to you to save or invest your money once you've maxed out your 401(k) contributions for the year. The choice you make will depend on your personal financial road map and which products best fit your goals. Consider speaking with a financial representative to find out what those are and how to proceed.

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IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Securities offered by Registered Representatives through W&S Brokerage Services. Member FINRA/SIPC. All companies are members of Western & Southern Financial Group

Information provided is general and educational in nature. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal or tax advice. Western & Southern Financial Group and its member companies (“the Company”) does not provide legal or tax advice. Laws of a specific state or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of this information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. The Company makes no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use. The Company disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, the information. Consult an attorney or tax advisor regarding your specific legal or tax situation.