Ah, the traditional pleasures of September. Summer's heat starts to recede. Pumpkin spice–flavored everything starts to appear on menus. People get in their first complaints of the year at seeing retailers roll out the Christmas marketing before they've even picked out their Halloween costumes. And, of course, here at Fool HQ, the month would not be complete without a mailbag show from Motley Fool Answers podcast hosts Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp. To help them address all your autumnal financial conundrums, Sean Gates, a financial planner with Motley Fool Wealth Management (a sister company of The Motley Fool), returns to the studio.
In this segment, they discuss a situation that has become enormously more common in recent years: A Fool fan is shifting out of the traditional sort of job in which he had insurance benefits and a 401(k) and into a role as an independent contractor. Among the many things that takes away from him is easy access to certain tax-advantaged retirement savings vehicles. So what are his options now? Well, it might be a little more work to get things rolling, but he has an array of accounts to choose from.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Sept 25, 2018.
Alison Southwick: The next question comes from Jeff. "I'm transitioning from being an employee at one company to an independent contractor at another. I have a 401(k), pension and HSA with my current employer, and I wanted your general thoughts on two things. One, what options do I have in saving for retirement and in an HSA as an independent contractor, and two, what should I do with my old 401(k)?"
Sean Gates: That's a great question. Ultimately, as an independent contractor it can get complicated, in theory, but you're just self-employed. As a self-employed person, what is available to you for retirement purposes are all of the various self-employed retirement options. I can list them at a high level, but I would encourage you to look up each one for the specifics of it. You can invest in an individual/solo 401(k). You can do a SEP IRA. You can do a simple IRA. You could do a defined benefit pension plan if you wanted to and if you made big bucks. You could also simply invest in a traditional or Roth IRA.
Any of those options are available. They each have different thresholds. Typically, if you make big bucks, think about a defined benefit pension plan or more likely an individual 401(k). If you make less money, think simple SEP or traditional and Roth IRA.
As it relates to the HSA, the HSA is usually a function of what type of health insurance plan you have. As a self-employed individual, look for a high-deductible health insurance plan and that high-deductible health insurance plan, if it meets the high deductibility or the premium amount that you might need to pay, will open up the option to utilize an HSA and then you can start funding it. I would strongly encourage you to consider that if you're young, given the power of the HSA account.
Robert Brokamp: Another question was what he should do with his old 401(k). Generally speaking, it's better to move it. It could be in a plan with a really good 401(k). Chances are the employer is covering costs for employees, but once you're no longer an employee, they make you cover some of those costs. That's what we do at The Motley Fool. Generally speaking, you're probably better to move it either to an IRA or your new 401(k) if you just choose to open a solo 401(k).
For me it always starts with what you want to invest in. If you want to invest in individual stocks, mutual funds, or ETFs, find the broker that offers those options at the best prices and then move your money there.