How should I use my employer retirement plan?

  • Try not to cash out your retirement 401(k) savings before age 59½. This almost always will cost you money (10 percent penalty and ordinary income taxes), and there are better ways to pay yourself through your retirement years, including using a rollover or keeping money in your company plan.
  • Steady Paycheck: Employer pensions provide a steady “paycheck” for your retirement in the form of an annuity. Be sure you understand the terms of accepting early retirement incentives and lump-sum payouts in lieu of the annuity.
  • Lump-Sum Option: If you take a lump-sum pension payment from your employer, resist the temptation to spend it. Instead, invest it carefully.
  • Protect Yourself From Inflation: To protect yourself from inflation, set aside some of your early pension benefits to ensure you have enough money for your advanced elderly years.
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