We've all heard the warnings and are well aware that we should save more for retirement. And as a new year approaches, it’s a good time to resolve to take concrete steps to do just that.
Uncle Sam wants you to save for retirement so much that the federal government has created a number of tax-advantaged retirement accounts, including popular choices such as the 401(k) and individual retirement account.
For most people, especially young people, the best place to start is with the 401(k) program at work. This is a particularly enticing option if your employer matches a portion of your contribution. That’s essentially free money.
“If you’re working at a company that offers a 401(k) and they match contributions, you should really save in that plan,” says Wei-Yin Hu, vice president of financial research at Financial Engines, an independent investment advisory firm in Sunnyvale, California. “It’s a great way to get a really good head start on building your retirement savings.”
If you’re self-employed, you have even more options, some of which allow significant tax savings. Exactly which option, or combination of options, is best depends on your personal financial situation. “There’s a category of people who are self-employed or own their own businesses and have more complicated choices to make,” Hu says.
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