Author Topic: Roth IRA vs. Self Employed 401K  (Read 1148 times)

Credaholic

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Roth IRA vs. Self Employed 401K
« on: November 07, 2016, 04:41:10 PM »
I'm trying to decide on the best allocation of our savings. We currently put money in our 401Ks and Roth IRAs. My 401K is a self-employed 401K and thanks to the "employer" contribution I can actually put away more than the $18K "employee" limit which would decrease my federal taxes now. I see the benefit in both sides of reducing taxes now vs. reducing taxes on earnings with a Roth IRA, and I'm not sure which side wins out. We don't have the funds to fully max out the Roth, employer contribution and employee contribution.

Should I reallocate Roth savings to the 401K or continue to contribute to a Roth?

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Roth IRA vs. Self Employed 401K
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2016, 06:09:01 PM »
In your situation, I would be tempted to contribute to the Roth, then the 401k for the simple reason the Roth *contributions* (NOTE:  not return on investment) can be withdrawn at any time penalty free.  Withdrawal of funds in a 401k are penalized 10% if withdrawn before age 59-1/2 (or age 55 if the person quits, is fired from, or retires from their 401k sponsoring job in the year they will turn age 55 - see 'rule of 55').

People who quit/retire before younger than age 55 generally roll their 401k to a rollover IRA, and after FIRE begin converting funds from their IRA to a Roth IRA (see 'Roth IRA Conversion Ladder').
But with the Roth, your contributions can be withdrawn at any time.  So, Roth first.

MDM

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Re: Roth IRA vs. Self Employed 401K
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2016, 06:37:12 PM »
Should I reallocate Roth savings to the 401K or continue to contribute to a Roth?
See https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Traditional_versus_Roth.  To make a reasoned decision you need to know your current marginal savings rate for traditional contributions, and estimate your marginal tax on withdrawals from those traditional accounts.

Aside from the pure math, there are (at least) a couple of "what if...?" considerations if "things happen":
1) As Mother Fussbudget notes, Roth contributions can be withdrawn at any time.  For practical purposes you should assume "any dollars withdrawn can't be re-contributed."
2) Optimistic (or even reasonable) growth projections that lead one to assume a high marginal withdrawal tax rate (and thus lean toward Roth) may not come to pass due to early retirement, either by choice or forced.  In this case traditional would have been better.