The Roth 401(k)

A Roth IRA can be an excellent retirement savings vehicle.

Elizabeth Carlassare
3-minute read
Episode #12

Today’s Topic: The Roth 401(k).

A Roth IRA can be an excellent retirement savings vehicle because your earnings get to grow tax free! You contribute after-tax money, but you don’t pay tax on the earnings later. A Roth IRA can be a really smart choice if you’re younger or think you’ll be in the same or a higher tax bracket in retirement than you are now.

What is a Roth 401(k)?

In Episode 4 on investing for retirement, I briefly mentioned the Roth 401(k), but I didn’t have time to go into any detail. I want to tell you some more about it now.

Think of the Roth 401(k) as a supercharged Roth IRA. A Roth 401(k) combines the benefits of a 401(k) with the benefits of a Roth IRA.

Available for the first time last year, a Roth 401(k) lets you put away much, much more than you could with a Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, your annual contribution is limited to $4,000 (plus an additional $1,000 if you’re age 50 or older). In contrast, with a Roth 401(k), the 401(k) contribution limits apply: For 2007, you can contribute up to $15,500 (plus an additional $5,000 if you’re 50 or older).

Best of all, because a Roth 401(k) is, just that, a Roth, your earnings get to grow tax free, which is pretty incredible!

Unlike a Roth IRA, the Roth 401(k) doesn’t have any income restrictions. You heard that right: no income restrictions. So if you’ve wanted to contribute to a Roth IRA but haven’t been eligible because your income is too high, a Roth 401(k) is a great solution.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. If your employer doesn’t have a Roth 401(k), let them know you’d like one and ask them to consider offering it. If enough employees ask, they’re more likely to seriously consider making it available. I’ve actually asked my own employer to offer a Roth 401(k) three times since it was introduced last year, and I think there’s a really good chance they will.

Stay tuned, because next week I'll talk about how to manage a solo 401(k), and after that I'll address Roth IRA maximums.

As always, everyone’s situation is different so it’s a good idea to consult your tax or financial advisor.


Today, I’m giving away a copy of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill: a classic book on how important your mindset is when it comes to creating wealth and achieving success. And the winner is Erica N. in Virginia. Congratulations, Erica! Check your e-mail for instructions.

Now, I thought it would be fun to make next week’s book giveaway a little different. There’s a trivia question and the first person to call or e-mail me with the correct answer will be the winner of next week’s book. So here’s the question:

How much is the metal in a nickel worth?

E-mail your answer to money@quickanddirtytips.com.

Cha-ching! That's all for now, courtesy of Money Girl, your guide to a richer life.

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