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Understanding Investment Accounts: A Quick Guide

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

Investment Accounts and what you should know

Navigating the world of investment can be daunting, especially with the myriad of account options available. To simplify things, here's a concise breakdown of some popular investment accounts and who they might be best suited for:

1. 401(k) or 403(b)

What is it? Employer-sponsored retirement account. You can allocate any percentage of your salary pre-tax to this account up to the IRS limits. Some employers might even match a portion of your contributions.

Can be good for: Employees keen on saving for retirement, especially if there's an employer match.

2. Roth 401(k)

What is it? A variation of the 401(k) where you contribute post-tax dollars. Investments grow tax-deferred, and qualified withdrawals are tax-free.

Can be good for: Employees who appreciate the benefits of a Roth account and can access this option via their workplace.

3. Traditional IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

What is it? A retirement account where contributions may be tax-deductible. Your investments grow tax-deferred until your start withdrawals in retirement.

Can be good for: Individuals aiming to save for retirement and possibly secure a tax deduction now.

4. Roth IRA

What is it? A retirement account funded with post-tax dollars. Your investments grow tax-deferred, and when you retire, qualified withdrawals are tax-free.

Can be good for: Those anticipating a higher tax bracket during retirement or desiring tax-free income at that time.

5. Brokerage Account

What is it: A standard investment account without tax advantages of retirement accounts. Can hold a variety of investments like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.

Can be good for: those looking to utilize investment products outside of retirement accounts.

6. Annuities

What is it? A product created by insurance firms that deliver tax deferral on gains and potential periodic future payments, often post-retirement.

Can be good for: Those in higher tax brackets seeking tax deferral as well as those seeking a guaranteed income stream in retirement.

7. SEP IRA (Simplified Employee Pension)

What is it? A low-cost retirement account tailored for self-employed or small business proprietors. It offers higher contribution caps than traditional or Roth IRAs.

Can be good for: Self-employed individuals or small business owners aiming to save a substantial amount for retirement.

8. HSA (Health Savings Account)

What is it? A tax-advantaged account for those with high-deductible health plans. Contribute pre-tax dollars and make tax-free withdrawals for qualified medical costs.

Can be good for: Individuals with high-deductible health plans aiming to save for present and future medical bills.

In the vast landscape of investment accounts, these are just a handful of the most popular accounts. Each comes with its unique set of regulations, perks, and factors to be aware of. Hence, it's important to consult with a professional financial advisor for a customized solution.

The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision.

A Roth IRA offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Qualified withdrawals of earnings from the account are tax-free. Withdrawals of earnings prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. Limitations and restrictions may apply.

Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax deductible in the contribution year, with current income tax due at withdrawal. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax in addition to current income tax.

Fixed and Variable annuities are suitable for long-term investing, such as retirement investing. Gains from tax-deferred investments are taxable as ordinary income upon withdrawal. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. Withdrawals made prior to age 59 ½ are subject to a 10% IRS penalty tax and surrender charges may apply. Variable annuities are subject to market risk and may lose value.

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