You were miserable in your old job and you’re excited to be starting a new one that’s much more to your liking. Say good riddance to an overbearing boss, long hours, low pay and high stress. But there’s one thing you shouldn’t leave behind.
If your money is still sitting in your previous employer’s 401k account, it’s time to move it into an account where you can control the fees and investment choices instead of letting your old employer make those decisions. This move is commonly referred to as a “401k rollover,” and depending on how quickly you act, it can have a significant impact on how much you’ll have at retirement.
Why Roll Over?
Rolling over your previous employer’s 401k account into a single IRA is the only way to make sure that your 401k accounts follow proven investing strategies such as asset allocation and diversification, as well as paying the lowest fees you can and being able to invest in the best performing securities. And with an IRA rollover, you preserve all of the existing tax advantages of your 401k. Here are some of the advantages to rolling over:
1. More and Better Investment Options
In an IRA, you can select your own investments. You won’t be limited to the funds and managers selected by your employer. Consider that the average 401k employer plan contains just 13 investment choices making it difficult, if not impossible, to achieve a diversified portfolio whereas an IRA can give you access to thousands of investments, including stocks, bonds, CDs, and mutual funds.
2. Lower Fees
Under a 401k, the average annual administration fee charged to your account is 0.50 percent. These fees represent money that is being wasted and worse, this money isn’t being used to fund your investments. Most IRA rollover accounts do not have any administrative fee associated with them and this represents an immediate saving. In addition, because you can choose where to invest with an IRA account, you’ll get to take advantage of funds that typically have lower expense ratios than funds available through your 401k.
3. Easier Account Management
With your retirement money earned from prior jobs in a single place, you’ll be able to see whether you are on track for retirement, without having to check multiple accounts. You can easily calculate your real return and drill down into the performance of individual funds or other investments.
4. Easier Asset Allocation
With one account for consolidating your retirement assets, you’ll be able to more readily see the mix of investments in your portfolio and adjust the balance as necessary to stay on track with your retirement goals.
How Mint Can Help
Let Mint track your new IRA. Mint can provide unprecedented visibility into your retirement accounts. You’ll see how much you are holding in your preferred asset classes and if your portfolio matches your intended asset allocation. In addition, Mint will show you how your portfolio is performing compared to the S&P 500 index, right down to the level of individual stocks.
The financial meltdown of late 2008 may have left you with a feeling of uncertainty about your financial future. But death and taxes notwithstanding, there are still some things you can control. First and foremost is taking charge of your 401k. Don’t leave money on the table. Rollover those 401ks from a previous employer today and start taking advantage of the broader investment choices, lower fees and simplified account management that comes from an IRA rollover account.