Yes, participate in a 401(k)

Question: I have a Roth IRA, a retirement account from a previous county hospital employment and a mutual fund. Shall I also begin a 401(k) with my new hospital employment?  Ivy, El Paso, TX 

Answer. I would participate in your company's retirement savings plan. It's the easiest way for most of us to save for our retirement since the pretax money automatically comes out of our paycheck. I would definitely participate if the hospital offers a match. The typical matching contribution in a 401(k) or comparable savings plan is 50 cents for every $1 the employee puts in, up to 6 percent. Of course, some companies do more and some do less. Still, it's a financial benefit you want to take advantage of if you can. 

I would also think about rolling your retirement account at your previous employer into an IRA. There's no real risk of leaving it with your former employer. However, I like the idea of taking control of the savings through a rollover IRA. It's your money and you get to choose the investment company and investment options for it. 

There aren't any tax consequences or penalties on a rollover, as long as the money goes directly from your former employer into the rollover IRA account (which is why it's also called a trustee-to-trustee rollover).

 

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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