If both you and your spouse are eligible for 401(k)s, consider yourselves lucky. 401(k)s are one of the best ways to save for retirement, and only about one third of U.S. workers have access to them. Of course, there are other ways to save for retirement, but 401(k)s offer one big benefit: The potential for an employer match. If both you and your spouse can benefit from an employer match, make sure you take full advantage of the opportunity before you make any other retirement contributions. Otherwise, you’ll be leaving money on the table.
How you manage your 401(k)s once you’re married depends on a number of different factors including your age, how much money you’ve saved and the specific rules of your investment accounts. You can choose to consolidate your retirement accounts into one or two accounts, or you can manage them separately if you like.
Why You Should Keep 'Em Apart
There are some times when you might want to maintain separate—his and hers—401(k)s. One reason might be to avoid any withdrawal charges associated with a rollover. Having two 401(k) plans may also allow you and your spouse to make more decisions about how to allocate your funds. Some 401(k) plans only have a few options for funds while others have many. Regardless of how your plans are structured, it’s important to look at all of your retirement funds as one big investment portfolio even when they are separate accounts. Adjust your asset allocation throughout your portfolio to make sure you are appropriately diversified for your age and risk tolerance.
Why You Might Bring 'Em Together
Consolidating your 401(k)s is another option. Consolidating your accounts offers the ability to manage all of your assets under one roof. This can be done by rolling over 401(k) assets into a traditional IRA. (If you each work at different companies, one company’s rollover IRA can accept assets from other IRAs). A consolidated retirement account makes it somewhat simpler to develop and maintain a diversified investment portfolio.
Before you decide how to best manage your combined retirement assets, talk to a professional financial planner or accountant. A professional can help you navigate complex rollover rules and any tax implications so you both can make the most of what you have.
—For the best rates on CDs, mortgages, savings, credit cards and more, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.