IRAs, 401(k)s and Other Retirement Savings Plans

IRAs, 401(k)s and Other Retirement Savings Plans

As with your Social Security and pension benefits, you may want to delay tapping into your retirement accounts as long as possible so they can continue to grow to cover unexpected medical costs in the future or to protect the inheritance for your heirs. However, if you need to supplement your income, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) and other retirement savings can be a good source.

Before you start withdrawing money from your retirement accounts, most financial planners suggest setting a target annual withdrawal rate. Make it low enough to avoid depleting these funds too quickly. You can fine tune your withdrawal strategy each year, preferably with the guidance of your financial or tax advisor. For example, if your personal situation changes, you can adjust how much you should withdraw.

Also review your retirement portfolio — your mix among stocks, stock mutual funds, CDs (certificates of deposit), bonds and so on — to be sure it’s well-diversified. (For ideas about how to rebalance your portfolio as you age, see Retirement Strategies for All Ages: A “To-Do” List

Another caveat: If you have retired, every year after age 70 ½ be sure to take out at least the minimum required distribution from your tax-deferred retirement savings plans (except Roth IRAs) to avoid large IRS tax penalties. (If you are still working at 70 ½ or later, you do not need to start taking minimum distributions from your employer’s plan until April 1 of the year following the year you finally retire.)

“Remember, you only have to withdraw the money, you don’t have to spend it,” said Heather Gratton, an FDIC Senior Financial Analyst. “If you don’t need the money you can reinvest it somewhere else, such as in a bank savings account.” She added that, because each person’s situation is different, it’s best to discuss your strategy with your tax or other advisor.

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