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IRA vs. 401(k): Which is Better for You?

by Donna Fuscaldo Published October 29, 2012 FOXBusiness

Wiser AdvisorWhen it comes to retirement planning, you have choices when it comes to picking what savings vehicle best fits your lifestyle. While most people will simply go with the 401(k) plan offered by their employer, there are other options like the Roth IRA.

When deciding which tool will house your nest egg, experts advise taking into consideration your discipline, income and tax goals.

With a company-sponsored 401(k) plan, employees can contribute pre-tax dollars from each pay check, which lowers their taxable income at the end of the year. In some cases the employer will match a portion of the contributions, effectively giving the employee free money. When it comes time to cash out of the plan, when you reach 59 1/2, you would have to pay taxes on the distributions.

An Individual Retirement Arrangement (Roth IRA) is another retirement savings tool. The money you put this account can't be written off on taxes, but money grows tax free and you don't pay taxes on the money when you take it out as long as you are over 59 1/2 and have had the Roth IRA open for at least five years. Read more:

Retirement Planning Tip

Consider basic investment principles

How you save can be as important as how much you save. Inflation and the type of investments you make play important roles in how much youíll have saved at retirement. Know how your savings or pension plan is invested. Learn about your planís investment options and ask questions. Put your savings in different types of investments. By diversifying this way, you are more likely to reduce risk and improve return. Your investment mix may change over time depending on a number of factors such as your age, goals, and financial circumstances. Financial security and knowledge go hand in hand.

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What is a Roth IRA?

If your employer's retirement plan offers a match you should contribute there at that level first then consider a Roth IRA. For many investors the Roth IRA may be the better investment vehicle long-term. While contributions are not tax deductible, no matter how much you've earned in your Roth IRA, when you withdraw it that money is tax free at both the Federal and State level as long as your account has been open for at least 5 years and you are at least age 59 1/2.

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