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November 14, 2019
Annual Checkups are for Retirement Savings Too
This time of year, we’re all looking forward to spending time with friends and family and celebrating the season, but it’s also the perfect time to take a look at your retirement plan.
Are you contributing to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan? Should you also be contributing to an IRA? Do you know all of the options available for retirement saving?
It’s a good idea to re-evaluate how much you’re saving from each paycheck, look at what that adds up to annually and determine if you’re on track to meet your retirement goals. Whether you’re where you want to be, or need to step up your saving game, it’s time to regroup and make changes for the upcoming year.
One easy way to make a quick difference in your savings is to increase the contribution to your 401(k) by one percent each year. It’s just a small increase, and you will likely barely notice the difference in your take-home pay, but you’ll be that much closer to your retirement dreams at the end of the year.
We know that saving for retirement can be a tricky subject, so here’s some help understanding your retirement saving options.
Qualified cash or deferred arrangements (CODAs) permitted under Section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code, commonly referred to as “401(k) plans,” have become one of the most popular types of employer-sponsored retirement plans.
How does a 401(k) plan work?
With a 401(k) plan, you elect either to receive cash payments (wages) from your employer immediately, or defer receipt of a portion of that income to the plan. The amount you defer (called an “elective deferral” or “pre-tax contribution”) isn’t currently included in your income; it’s made with pre-tax dollars. Consequently, your federal taxable income (and federal income tax) that year is reduced. And the deferred portion (along with any investment earnings) isn’t taxed to you until you receive payments from the plan.
You may also be able to make Roth contributions to your 401(k) plan. Roth 401(k) contributions are made on an after-tax basis, just like Roth IRA contributions. Unlike pre-tax contributions to a 401(k) plan, there’s no up-front tax benefit, but qualified distributions from a Roth 401(k) account are entirely free from federal income tax.
When can I contribute?
You can contribute to your employer’s 401(k) plan as soon as you’re eligible to participate under the terms of the plan. In general, a 401(k) plan can make you wait up to a year before you’re eligible to contribute. But many plans don’t have a waiting period at all, allowing you to contribute beginning with your first paycheck.
Some 401(k) plans provide for automatic enrollment once you’ve satisfied the plan’s eligibility requirements. For example, the plan might provide that you’ll be automatically enrolled at a 3% pre-tax contribution rate (or some other percentage) unless you elect a different deferral percentage, or choose not to participate in the plan. This is sometimes called a “negative enrollment” because you haven’t affirmatively elected to participate—instead you must affirmatively act to change or stop contributions. If you’ve been automatically enrolled in your 401(k) plan, make sure to check that your assigned contribution rate and investments are appropriate for your circumstances.
How much can I contribute?
There’s an overall cap on your combined pre-tax and Roth 401(k) contributions. You can contribute up to $19,000 of your pay ($25,000 if you’re age 50 or older) to a 401(k) plan in 2019. If your plan allows Roth 401(k) contributions, you can split your contribution between pre-tax and Roth contributions any way you wish. For example, you can make $10,000 of Roth contributions and $9,000 of pre-tax 401(k) contributions. It’s up to you.
But keep in mind that if you also contribute to another employer’s 401(k), 403(b), SIMPLE, or SAR-SEP plan, your total contributions to all of these plans—both pre-tax and Roth—can’t exceed $19,000 ($25,000 if you’re age 50 or older). It’s up to you to make sure you don’t exceed these limits if you contribute to plans of more than one employer.
Can I also contribute to an IRA?
Your participation in a 401(k) plan has no impact on your ability to contribute to an IRA (Roth or traditional). You can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA in 2019, $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older (or, if less, 100% of your taxable compensation). But, depending on your salary level, your ability to take a tax deduction for your traditional IRA contributions may be limited if you participate in a 401(k) plan.
What are the tax consequences?
When you make pre-tax 401(k) contributions, you don’t pay current income taxes on those dollars (which generally means more take-home pay compared to an after-tax Roth contribution of the same amount). But your contributions and investment earnings are fully taxable when you receive a distribution from the plan.
In contrast, Roth 401(k) contributions are subject to income taxes up front, but qualified distributions of your contributions and earnings are entirely free from federal income tax. In general, a distribution from your Roth 401(k) account is qualified only if it satisfies both of the following requirements:
- It’s made after the end of a five-year waiting period.
- The payment is made after you turn 591⁄2, become disabled, or die.
The five-year waiting period for qualified distributions starts with the year you make your first Roth contribution to the 401(k) plan. For example, if you make your first Roth contribution to your employer’s 401(k) plan in December 2019, your five-year waiting period begins January 1, 2019, and ends on December 31, 2023. Each nonqualified distribution is deemed to consist of a pro-rata portion of your tax-free contributions and taxable earnings.
What about employer contributions?
Many employers will match all or part of your contributions. Your employer can match your Roth contributions, your pre-tax contributions, or both. But your employer’s contributions are always made on a pre-tax basis, even if they match your Roth contributions. That is, your employer’s contributions, and investment earnings on those contributions, are always taxable to you when you receive a distribution from the plan.
How should I choose between pre-tax and Roth contributions?
Assuming your 401(k) plan allows you to make Roth 401(k) contributions, which option might you choose? It depends on your personal situation. If you think you’ll be in a similar or higher tax bracket when you retire, Roth 401(k) contributions may be more appealing, since you’ll effectively lock in today’s lower tax rates. However, if you think you’ll be in a lower tax bracket when you retire, pre-tax 401(k) contributions may be more appropriate. Your investment horizon and projected investment results are also important factors. A financial professional can help you determine which course is appropriate for you.
Whichever you decide—Roth or pre-tax—make sure you contribute as much as necessary to get the maximum matching contribution from your employer. This is essentially free money that can help you reach your retirement goals that much sooner.
Make sure you contribute as much as necessary to get the maximum matching contribution from your employer. This is essentially free money that can help you reach your retirement goals that much sooner.
Questions? Contact a CFS Financial Advisor.
Grow has contracted with CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (CFS) to provide investment services, and your CFS Financial Advisor will help you build a plan that meets your needs. The advisor will look at your current spending, saving and investing, learn about your goals and priorities, make objective recommendations and support your efforts moving forward through the implementation and management of your plan.
Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. For specific tax advice, please consult a qualified tax professional.
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2019.
How to Find Your Routing & Account Numbers
When you make a payment online, by phone or on a mobile device, you may be asked for our routing number and your checking account number. Credit unions and banks use these numbers to identify accounts and make sure money gets where it’s supposed to be. You’ll also need to provide your routing and checking account numbers for:
- Direct deposits
- Electronic checks
- Military allotments
- Wire transfers
Where to Find Your Routing & Checking Account Numbers
Your personal checks include both our routing number and your account number, as shown on the Grow check example below.
Don’t have a Grow check? No worries.
Visit any Grow store and ask for a Direct Deposit Form. It lists both your routing number and checking account number.
Making a Loan Payment
When it comes to making payments, we try to make it as painless as possible to pay your loan every month. We have several different ways to pay, including convenient online options.
You have two ways to pay online by transferring funds from another bank or credit union.
- Grow Online Banking (Preferred payment method for any loan)
This is the simplest way to pay your loan. You can make one-time payments or set up automatic recurring payments in Grow Online Banking. Once you log in, select “Transfer/Payments” from the menu. If you’re not enrolled in Grow Online Banking yet, you can set up your account in just a few minutes.
- Debit Card or ACH (Available for auto, personal and home equity loans and HELOCs)
Note: ACH and debit card payments are not available for credit cards or most mortgages, except HELOCs.
We accept ACH payments with no additional fees or Mastercard® and Visa® debit cards with a convenience fee of $4.95. To get started with an online ACH or debit card payment, select Pay Now below.
Pay by Mail
You can also pay any Grow loan by check through the mail. Please remember to include your account number and Grow loan number on the check. (For credit card payments, please do not write your 16-digit credit card number on the check, which can cause a delay in processing the payment.)
Address for auto, credit card and personal loan payments:
Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 75466
Chicago, IL 60675-5466
Address for mortgage and home equity payments:
Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 11733
Newark, NJ 07101-4733