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Author: TMFPixy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 76237  
Subject: Re: 401K to IRA rules Date: 10/23/1998 8:10 AM
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Greetings, Kerry, and welcome. You asked:

<<1 - If I just wanted to contribute enough to the 401K to get the max. matching, where would I put the other 13%?>>

The specific vehicle is entirely up to you; however, around here we believe the next $2K beyond the company match should go to a Roth IRA. If you're unsure as to the investment, then at your age you can't go too wrong by using a plain ole vanilla S&P 500 index fund like the Vanguard 500 Portfolio.

<<2 - When I quit, can I move my 401K savings to the Roth IRA? (with or without penalty?)>>

Yes you can, and without penalty provided you use a two-step process and arrange for a direct custodian-to-custodian transfer in both steps. The Roth IRA cannot accept money directly from a 401k; however, it can from a traditional IRA. Thus, to get the money to a Roth and to avoid any tax hassle in the process, you should arrange for a direct transfer of the 401k money to a traditional IRA at the broker/fund of your choice. Both the broker/fund and the plan administrator know how to do this, so all you have to do is ask them how to accomplish the direct transfer. When the money is in the traditional IRA, you then ask the broker/fund custodian to convert that IRA to a Roth IRA. Be aware, though, that this conversion may not be the best thing to do. Much depends on how you will pay the taxes due on the conversion and your tax rate today versus that in retirement. For further details on that issue, see my analysis in this folder at this link:
http://boards.fool.com/Registered/Message.asp?id=1040013000441002&sort=postdate .

<<3 - If I do that, can I continue to contribute $2000 a year to the Roth in the coming years?>>

Yes, you can. The conversion of a traditional IRA has no impact on your ability to make an annual contribution to an IRA, traditional or Roth.

<<4 - If I start a new job that has a 401K do I have to put my old 401K money there?>>

No, you don't. In fact, most Fools prefer not to do that because we wish to retain a full range of investment options that can't be found in the vast majority of 401k plans.

<<5 - Is there any reason to have a regular IRA instead of a Roth? >>

Possibly there is depending on your tax situation today and depending on what you think your tax rate will be in retirement. In general, if you need the tax break today and if you think your tax rate will be much lower in retirement, then a traditional IRA may be better for you in the long run. See the analysis I linked you to earlier.

<<6 - Can I have both IRAs and put $2000 in each every year plus have a 401K?>>

You may have and contribute a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA at the same time, but you may make a combined total contribution to each of no more than $2K per year. That contribution may be made to just one or split between the two, but you may not contribute $2K to both in the same year.

<<8 - Can I hide my savings in an off-shore account somewhere? I don't see a message board for that!>>,

Sure, provided you don't mind fines and a little jail time if and when you get caught doing so.

<<7 - Why does our government make this all so damn confusing?>>

Hey, that's what governments are for. How else do you think those folks stay employed? If things were simple, there wouldn't be a need for at least half of those now working in all levels of government. Think of the confusion as helpful to the job market and thus to the economy, and you won't feel so badly about it all.

<<I know these questions have been discussed, but I've read through and through these messages, the retirement section, and the MF Investment Guide and still don't understand. If anyone can explain this to me (in simple english) I would be extremely grateful!>>

Sorry, we speak only in tongues around here. It's our small bit to help the government keep all of us in the dark.

Regards….Pixy
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