Monday, November 27, 2006

401k

In January, I'll become eligible for my employer's 401k plan. The match is dollar-for-dollar, up to $1,500. That's about 6.5% of my salary, but much less than that of more senior employees' (which gives me pause, somehow, given that my company is employee-owned).

I think, then, that instead of contributing $100 per pay period, I will contribute enough to get the full match (about $60 per pay period) and divert the rest into a Roth IRA. This means that before January I will need to find a place to open a Roth and set up automatic contributions, lest I derail my savings-allocation plans. I hadn't thought I'd be opening a Roth until after I hit my ING savings goal, so this will require a whole new bunch of research.

It's amazing to me the extent to which what I (we?) don't know is the pragmatic elements of finance. It is very easy to realize that saving is good, and almost as easy to discern one's options for savings vehicles. It is, however, almost impossible to find out how to open a Roth, say. Really what I want is a step-by-step set of instructions, along the lines of:

Step One: Consider X, Y, and Z when choosing which company to use for your Roth [even the concept of a Roth being with a specific firm is a little hazy]. Here are the major options: A, B, and C.
Step Two: Go to www.whateverwebsite.com.
Step Two: Click "Open a Roth IRA."
Step Three: This is the information you will need to provide.
Step Four: Set up automatic transfers.
Step Five: Here is how you maintain your account, that is, what you should keep your eye on and how you should conduct business with your chosen company.

Because this is the part that I do not for the life of me know how to do. Any and all pragmatic instructions are very much welcome; in their absence, I will begin my usual internet-combing.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I think that is a great idea. That is what I do, contribute up to the match on my 401K and then add the rest to my Roth. My personal finance teacher in college recommended no-load index funds for your first investment or you could invest in one of those target retirement funds. This way you are automatically diversified and save on mutual fund fees. I use Vanguard, but I think other companies like Fidelity also have good programs. You'll need to check into minimum investment requirements though. For retirment accounts with Vanguard it is $1,000, but there may be a place with a lower minimum. Maybe Sharebuilder? Shoot me an email if you want more info.