In the United States, a 401k (401k) is an individual-based defined-contribution pension plan in which an employee is guaranteed a fixed rate of return on his or her contributions, in addition to a guaranteed minimum income. Employee funds are usually drawn from the payroll of an individual worker through payroll deductions. 401k plans have been used successfully for decades, but are under new management due to the fact that they have recently become a controversial topic in the US retirement community. The main reason behind this is the perceived lack of liquidity from the current retirement plans. Most private sector company retirement plans only pay out a portion of their employees’ funds in a year. The remaining balance goes into separate accounts run by the company. When an employee retires, these funds are usually invested for the benefit of the employees no matter how they are spent. Typically, the company does not have an extensive investment strategy, and therefore it is often the case that retirement payouts come only after years of service. A 401k has its advantages, particularly when compared to other plans such as IRAs or other indexed funds. It provides employees with a tax-deferred income on a defined period of time after retirement. The money grows tax deferred until it is withdrawn. This can be a huge benefit if you plan on taking advantage of this tax deferral. It also gives employers an opportunity to retain workers through company-run defined benefit pension plans. There are restrictions to a self directed IRA and a 401k plan, especially in regard to rollover. A self directed IRA must always be operated electronically and cannot be rolled over to a traditional IRA, as the penalties for doing so may be too harsh. Furthermore, IRA distributions are limited to a set amount per year, unlike a 401k plan where a large sum of money is permitted to be distributed annually. If a rollover is necessary, then a traditional IRA may be the better choice as the regulations regarding rollovers and contributions are more lenient. Finally, rollovers to a traditional IRA will require up to 20 years of notice before the distribution of funds. 401k plans can be a great way to save for retirement. In addition to providing a steady income, you also get to take advantage of some excellent tax benefits. After all, you are working to reach your retirement and you deserve it. Additionally, you can usually contribute quite a bit of your salary into your plan, although you might have to pay taxes on the entire amount at the end of your career. However, with a 401k your pension starts growing tax deferred right away, and you have access to your money earlier than you would with other retirement plans. As with any investment, investing in a 401k requires that you are able to calculate risk. Since your contributions are tax deferred, the money is more likely to be invested in safe, low risk investments. This means that you want to choose investments that will grow tax deferred. A good example of a safe investment is a certificate of deposit (CD). There are several different types of 401k plans that are available to employees. One of these options is a defined benefit plan. The benefit is defined each year throughout the employee’s employment. If an employee dies, the plan is funded according to the surviving employee’s death benefit. Defined benefit plans are a good option for many employees as they offer a sense of security. Another type of 401k plan offered by most employers are Simplified Employee Benefit Plan (SEPP). These plans allow the employee to invest in several mutual fund and bond funds, whereas the SEPP plans are usually limited to a single fund. Also, both plans have restrictions on what assets the employee may invest in and the kinds of investments. Most employers have a limit on the total annual amount of contributions that can be made. These limits are usually based on the overall compensation of the employee.