Think Twice Before Rolling Over a 401(k)

think-twice-before-401k-rollover-story-570x225-2Wall Street has done a remarkably thorough job of brainwashing investors into rolling their old 401(k) accounts into individual retirement accounts.

IRA rollovers are certainly a better option than cashing out, which is the stupidest thing you can do with a 401(k) account other than not fund it in the first place. But moving money from a workplace retirement plan to an IRA when you switch jobs or retire can be a really lousy idea.

In my latest for Nerdwallet, why you need to think twice before rolling over a 401(k).

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to improve your online banking security. Also in the news: Avoiding overwhelming student debt, getting the most out of your 401(k) plan, and 12 cheap ways to keep your kids busy this summer.

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Monday’s need-to-know money news

common-retirement-mistakesToday’s top story: College counselors spill financial aid secrets. Also in the news: How to tell if you’re on track for retirement, why new grads have a huge retirement savings advantage, and the 401(k) mistakes that could cost you a bundle.

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Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What you need to know about the new Social Security changes. Also in the news: Deciding between leasing or buying a car, how new graduates starting a business should manage their debt, and what to know before rolling over your 401(k).

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Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

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Q&A: Retirement account bears close scrutiny

Dear Liz: About five years ago, I transferred a 401(k) account to an IRA with a financial advisor recommended by a friend. I receive monthly statements, but like most people, I am busy and do not study them, which is my fault. The statements are very confusing, even though I am a college graduate with a business degree. I recently realized that the account has not grown at all, even though it’s invested in stock mutual funds. The Standard & Poor’s 500 has been up about 10% each year on average, so I feel that I should have a much better return. How do I best go about finding out why I am not making any money? Approaching this financial advisor is useless.

Answer: It appears your advisor is worse than useless; he or she is a hazard to your financial health.

A properly diversified retirement portfolio may not grow at exactly the same rate as a stock benchmark such as the S&P 500, but it certainly should have grown significantly in the past five years. It could be that the advisor has been trying to “beat the market” with actively managed funds, which typically fall far short of the mark and do little other than cost investors too much. Or the advisor could be pushing high-cost funds that pay fat commissions and benefit the firm far more than they benefit you.

The Department of Labor recently instituted regulations that should stop many of these shenanigans by requiring advisors giving retirement advice to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. You shouldn’t wait for those changes to be implemented, though, because you’ve already lost enough ground. Transfer your IRA to a low-cost provider such as Vanguard, Fidelity or T. Rowe Price and consider investing in a target-date retirement fund that will take care of asset allocation and rebalancing for you.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

business girl with shopping bagsToday’s top story: How to find the best deals for Memorial Day sales. Also in the news: Money mistakes to avoid for new grads, why Americans are pretty clueless about their credit cards and scores, and deciding what to do with an old 401(k).

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Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

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3 money-saving tips for your next family trip
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Friday’s need-to-know money news

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Monday’s need-to-know money news

invest-emergency-fundToday’s top story: How to build an emergency fund. Also in the news: Social Security mistakes to avoid, the best way to save for a down payment on a home, and what happens when your 401(k) gets too big?

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