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Self-Employed Retirement Success Requires Discipline

January 3, 2020
MK Epperson
A recent study by retirement research company Plansponsor, a division of Connecticut-based Asset International Inc., shows of those surveyed nationwide, only 56% of independent workers were actively saving for retirement, compared with 72% of traditional workers.

Independent workers have a number of retirement options, from traditional and Roth IRAs to Simplified Employee Pension IRAs and Simple IRAs, according to the Spokane Journal’s article “Self-employed professionals see more retirement flexibility.”

Solo 401(k)s are best for independent workers, as they have a higher contribution limit. Up to $55,000 can be put into a solo 401(k) on an annual basis.

A SEP IRA for business owners works in much the same way as the traditional IRA plan, but has a higher contribution limit per year: $57,000 for 2019. The Roth plan boasts a maximum annual contribution limit of $6,000 for people under the age of 50. For a person over the age of 50, the limit is $7,000.

The concept is the same with a SEP or a traditional IRA for a self-employed person as for an employee: the person contributes pre-tax earnings that reduces her overall taxable income and she gets an upfront tax break. When the money is withdrawn during retirement, it is taxed the same way as regular income. With a Roth, the taxes are paid up front, so the withdrawals are taken tax free.

The nice thing about a SEP is that the person can make contributions up until she files tax returns, so there’s more time to get tax benefits.

A Simple IRA was designed for small businesses, and so it has less paperwork requirements than a regular 401(k).

The biggest mistake self-employed people make is not setting aside enough money to pay their taxes throughout the year. Someone who receives a W-2 doesn’t have to think about paying taxes, but the self-employed person does.

Self-employed people often use a taxable investment account that offers more flexibility and has fewer limitations. A taxable investment account has no IRS-established clauses controlling when money can be withdrawn. There are also no limitations on how much can be contributed and who can contribute money into these types of accounts.

The most important thing for the self-employed person, is to put money away consistently. It doesn’t have to be a big deposit every year, but a small amount of money saved monthly adds up over time.

Reference: Spokane Journal (December 5, 2019) “Self-employed professionals see more retirement flexibility”

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