4 Ways to Manage Your Retirement Accounts When you Switch Jobs

When you switch jobs, you will probably also start a new retirement account. What happens to the old account? Consider managing that money in four ways. 

1. Let Your Money Sit in Your Former Employer's 401(k)

You usually have anywhere from 30 to 90 days to decide if this option is for you, and you can use it if you have at least $5,000 in your account. While this option is easy, especially if you have a good 401(k)plan, you may pay an extra fee to maintain the account, and you may not be able to access your funds for any reason until you retire. 

2. Roll the Account Into a 401(k) Plan With Your New Employer 

Consolidating all your retirement money into one account makes keeping track of its performance easier for you. Check the plan's investment options to make sure you have access to similar benefits and interests rates as your old plan offered. 

3. Open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

An IRA gives you control of your retirement money. With it, you have the freedom and flexibility to choose any combination of investment stocks, bonds and mutual funds. IRAs often charge lower fees than 401(k) plans, too. You may owe taxes, though, if you move your 401(k) funds to an IRA. Ask your former employer to complete a direct transfer from the old 401(k) to your new IRA to avoid taxes. 

4. Cash Out Your Old Account 

When you cash out your old retirement account, you have cash to repay debt or go on vacation. Remember, though, that you'll have to pay income taxes on the full amount. You'll also owe an early-withdrawal penalty on the amount you withdraw if it is before your 55th birthday. Emptying your account also means you'll have less money for retirement. 

When you switch jobs, you can handle your old retirement account in numerous ways. Talk to your financial advisor or human resources manager for additional information as you make the best decision for your future retirement. 

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