Where you put your retirement savings is just as important as what you invest in. The right account can help you save on taxes and invest in securities that align with your long-term goals. Some even enable matching employer contributions.
You've probably heard of the merits of 401(k)s and IRAs, but there's one account that could actually be a better option than either.
It's hard to beat the triple tax advantage
Some retirement accounts offer tax breaks on your contributions this year and tax-deferred earnings. Others require you to pay taxes on your contributions upfront but promise tax-free withdrawals in retirement. But there's only one account that offers all three benefits in one.
Health savings accounts (HSAs) are designed to house medical savings, and they're intended for people of all ages, not just seniors. But they actually make pretty great retirement savings accounts as well.
HSA contributions reduce your taxable income for the year, and depending on the company you have your HSA through, you may be able to invest your savings, just as you can with retirement funds.
When HSAs are offered as a job perk, some employers even throw in a match. This is similar to a 401(k) match, but the funds go into your HSA instead. Your personal contributions are always yours to keep, but you could forfeit some of your matched funds if you leave the company before you're fully vested.
You're allowed to make tax-free withdrawals for medical expenses at any age, which can be helpful if you experience an emergency. But if you plan to use your HSA for retirement savings, it's better to avoid withdrawing the funds until you're actually retired. The same goes for non-medical withdrawals. You can also make these withdrawals at any age, though you'll pay taxes on them plus a 20% penalty if you're under 65.
How to open an HSA
Only those with high-deductible health insurance plans are eligible to contribute to a HSA. Individuals must have a plan with a deductible of $1,400 or more, and families must have a plan with a deductible of $2,800 or more.
Sometimes, if you're offered a qualifying health insurance policy through your job, your employer will also offer an HSA. But if your job doesn't, you can always open one yourself through any bank or broker that offers one. It's best to look for a company that will enable you to invest your HSA funds so they're worth more by the time you retire.
Individuals may contribute up to $3,600 to an HSA in 2021, and families may contribute up to $7,200. These limits will rise to $3,650 and $7,300, respectively, in 2022.
Because these limits are so low, you'll probably need another type of retirement account to help you save enough for retirement. A 401(k) is a solid option, especially if your employer offers a match. Or you could open an IRA. This enables you to choose when you want to pay taxes and gives you a wider range of investments to choose from.
It's ultimately up to you to decide which accounts make the most sense for your retirement plan, but an HSA is worth adding to the mix if its benefits appeal to you. Determine whether you qualify first and, if you do, consider opening one today.