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Mutual Funds v. 401(k) for Retirement

By: , dated January 25th, 2013

While you’re planning for your retirement, you’ve probably considered investing your money in mutual funds and/or a 401(k). But what are these investment options and which one is better for your retirement plan?

A mutual fund is essentially a hybrid investment, as it is an investment in all sorts of stocks, bonds and other markets. The financial wisdom is that while some investments may fail, others will succeed, and via a mutual fund, the investor will always benefit. Many people often plan their retirement around expected returns from mutual funds.

Is A 401(k) Better?

The 401(k) is an actual retirement plan, sponsored by a person’s place of work. Usually private corporations offer the 401(k) option for employees. Essentially, an employee chooses to have part of his or her paycheck transferred to the 401(k) fund – or retirement savings account. People can even use their 401(k) plan in combination with mutual funds. An advantage of the 401(k) plan is that funds diverted to the retirement account are tax-deductible! Additionally, earnings from a 401(k) savings account (interest, etc) are not subject to taxation. Only when a person begins to withdraw the funds for retirement or other needs, is he or she responsible for taxes.

There are lots of facets to the 401(k) plan that further complicate it but financial advisors often boast that it is a much more secure investment than simply putting money toward even the most conservative of investments such as mutual funds. A 401(k) is a savings plan, so it is reliable.

Mutual funds, on the other hand, are a type of investment that involves thousands of others. Pools of money are put into various places including stocks and bonds. The fund manager then watches the account and divides the profits accordingly. They are fairly cost-effective, and they tend to be diversified enough to attempt to ensure that losses aren’t as drastic as they might be if one invested in the individual stocks and bonds.

However, when weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a 401(k) plan versus those of mutual funds, you’ll find the best option is to combine both investments. Instead of investing in the market the conventional way, invest in mutual funds and then divert your profits directly into your retirement plan. This way, you can invest in the market and add your returns into your clear-cut savings plan, your 401(k).

All in all, mutual funds are a much easier concept to grasp than a 401(k) plan, as the latter simply has a lot of technicalities that go along with it. However, for retirement purposes, the 401(k) plan is ideal. This is because the 401(k) plan, unlike mutual funds and general investment options, is specifically designed for one’s retirement and it encourages saving - so it is absolutely dependable. If a person must choose a 401(k) plan or mutual funds when planning for their retirement, they ought to go with the former. But the best option is to rely on both a 401(k) plan and mutual funds for retirement.

If you’re interested in a 401(k) plan, investigate your employer or potential employer to see if a 401(k) plan is offered. Then elect to reserve a bit of every paycheck for your retirement and ultimately, future. Because of the growing concern about Social Security, people must take their retirement into their own hands and not rely on the government as much as they did before.

A 401(k) plan is a great way to ensure that a person saves sufficient money to ensure that their financial future is protected. Additionally, mutual funds are a relatively safe way to invest in the market and when mutual funds are used in tandem with a 401(k) plan, financial success can be easy to achieve.

This article was brought to you by the InvestorGuide Staff Writers and Editors.

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One Response to “Mutual Funds v. 401(k) for Retirement”

  1. John Taabavi says:

    This is a wonderful article for investment advisors.

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