What should you do when you leave your job but still have money in your former employer’s 401(k) program?
The good news is that you have a variety options.
One is to keep your money where it’s at, but keep in mind that you’ll no longer be able to make contributions. If you decide you like your current investment options, be sure to ask if leaving the money in the plan is possible and if there are any additional fees as a former employee.
A second option would be to roll your money into your new employer’s 401(k) plan, if that plan accepts transfers.
It’s very likely your investment choices will be different, but the new options could be more diverse and you might get access to financial planning advice. Then again, your choices could actually be narrower.
If you consider this option, talk with your new human resource officials to see if rollovers are possible.
A third choice would be to move your money into an Individual Retirement Account at your financial institution or an investment company. IRA’s have many more investment options and you’ll likely be able to build a relationship with a financial advisor who can help you regularly assess your investment strategy.
Another choice would be to cash out of your plan, but this option could be costly.
While cashing out can give you instant money to pay off loans or to make purchases, you’ll have to pay income taxes on that money and you also might have to pay an early withdrawal penalty. These can be big hits to your funds.
No matter what you choose, it’s recommended that you talk to an expert about the best way to transfer the money from your 401(k) to something new without incurring withholding penalties or income taxes.
Figuring out what to do with a 401(k) when you quit can be confusing so take the time to ask questions about investment options and any taxes or penalties you might face when moving your money from one option to another.