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  • Writer's pictureFresh Start

What is 401K

A 401k is a type of retirement savings plan offered by many employers in The United States. The name "401k" comes from the section of the Internal Revenue Code that governs these plans.

401k plans are tax-advantaged, which means that the money you contribute to your account is not taxed until you withdraw it in retirement. This can help you save money on taxes over the long term, since you'll likely be in a lower tax bracket in retirement than you are now.

How does a 401k Works?

When you sign up for a 401k plan, you'll typically be given a few investment options to choose from. These might include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other types of assets.

You'll then choose how much of your paycheck you want to contribute to the plan each month. Some employers also offer a matching contribution, which means that they'll contribute a certain amount of money to your account for every dollar you contribute.

Once you've made contributions to your 401k account, the money will be invested in the assets you've chosen. Over time, your investments will hopefully grow in value, allowing you to build a larger retirement nest egg.

Withdrawing from a 401k

While 401k plans are designed for retirement savings, you can typically withdraw money from your account before you retire in certain circumstances. For example, you may be able to take a loan from your 401k to pay for unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or home repairs.

However, it's important to note that withdrawing money from your 401k before retirement can have significant consequences. Not only will you lose out on the potential growth of your investments, but you'll also have to pay taxes and penalties on the amount you withdraw.

It's generally best to leave your 401k savings untouched until you're ready to retire. At that point, you can begin withdrawing money from your account as needed to support your lifestyle.

401k Contribution Limits

The IRS sets limits on how much you can contribute to your 401k account each year. For 2023, the contribution limit is $19,500 for individuals under age 50. If you're over 50, you can make an additional "catch-up" contribution of up to $6,500 per year.

In addition to these limits, some employers may place additional restrictions on 401k contributions. For example, they may limit the percentage of your paycheck you can contribute, or they may require you to work a certain number of years before you're eligible to participate in the plan.

Choosing a 401k Plan

If your employer offers a 401k plan, it's important to carefully consider your options before deciding how much to contribute and which investments to choose. You may want to consult with a financial advisor or use an online tool to help you make informed decisions.

It's also a good idea to periodically review your 401k investments to ensure they're aligned with your long-term retirement goals. Over time, you may need to adjust your contributions or shift your investments to better suit your changing needs.


A 401k is a powerful tool for retirement savings that can help you build a secure financial future. By contributing to your account regularly and making informed investment decisions, you can make the most of this valuable benefit and achieve your retirement goals.

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