A 401(k) can be one of your best tools for creating a secure retirement. It provides you with two important advantages. First, all contributions and earnings to your 401(k) are tax deferred. You only pay taxes on contributions and earnings when the money is withdrawn. Second, many employers provide matching contributions to your 401(k) account which can range from 0% to 100% of your contributions. The combined result is a retirement savings plan you cannot afford to pass up.
- This is your annual salary from your employer before taxes and other benefit deductions. Since your contribution and company match are based on the salary paid to you by your employer, do not include any income you may receive from sources other than your employer.
Percent to contribute
- This is the percentage of your annual salary you contribute to your 401(k) plan each year. Most employers permit employees to contribute up to 15 percent of their salary to a 401(k).
Annual contribution limits
- Your total contribution for one year is based on your annual salary times the percent you contribute. However, your annual contribution is also subject to certain maximum total contributions per year. The annual maximum for 2009 is $16,500. Starting at age 50 or older, a “catch-up” provision allows you to contribute an additional $5,500 into your 401(k) account. It is also important to note that employer contributions do not affect an employee’s maximum annual contribution limit.It is important to note that some employees are subject to another form of contribution limitations. Employees classified as “Highly Compensated” may be subject to contribution limits based on their employer’s overall 401(k) participation. If you expect your salary to be $110,000 or more in 2009 or was $105,000 or more in 2008, you may need to contact your employer to see if these additional contribution limits apply to you.
- Your current age.
Age of retirement
- Age you wish to retire. This calculator assumes that the year you retire, you do not make any contributions to your 401(k). So if you retire at age 65, your last contribution happened when you were actually 64.
Current 401(k) balance
- The starting balance or current amount you have invested or saved in your 401(k).
Annual rate of return
- The annual rate of return for your 401(k) account. This calculator assumes that your return is compounded annually and your deposits are made monthly. The actual rate of return is largely dependent on the type of investments you select. From January 1970 to December 2008, the average annual compounded rate of return for the S&P 500, including reinvestment of dividends, was approximately 9.7% (source: www.standardandpoors.com). During this period, the highest 12-month return was 61%, from June 1982 through June 1983. The lowest 12-month return was -39%, which happened twice, once from September 1973 to September 1974 and again from November 2007 to November 2008. Savings accounts at a bank may pay as little as 1% or less but carry significantly lower risk of loss of principal balances.It is important to remember that future rates of return can’t be predicted with certainty and that investments that pay higher rates of return are generally subject to higher risk and volatility. The actual rate of return on investments can vary widely over time, especially for long-term investments. This includes the potential loss of principal on your investment. It is not possible to invest directly in an index and the compounded rate of return noted above does not reflect sales charges and other fees that funds and/or investment companies may charge.
Annual salary increase
- The annual rate you expect your salary to increase. We assume that your salary will continue to increase at this rate until you retire.
- An employer match is in addition to your annual contributions. It is based on a percentage of your annual contributions. This range can be anywhere from 0% to 100%.For example, let’s assume the employer matches 50% of the employee’s contributions up to 6% of their salary. The employee earns $100,000 per year and contributes 10%. The results would be:
- $10,000 from the employee
- $3,000 from the employer (which is 50% of $6,000 or 6% of the annual salary).
- Total: $13,000