Growing your wealth requires a strategy as well as spare cash, and one of the most important decisions you'll have to make is where you keep your money. The account you choose determines what your investment options are, when you pay taxes on your funds, and how much you can set aside each year.
But the right account for you depends on your retirement goals and what you have available to you. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you decide where to put your money first in 2023.
Start with your 401(k) if you get a company match
Your 401(k) match is a limited-time offer. If you don't claim it by the end of the year, you don't get it at all. Rather than take this risk, try to claim your 401(k) match as soon as you can. Once you've done that, you can decide whether you'd like to continue saving in your 401(k) or use a different account.
Check with your company's HR department to learn how much you must contribute in 2023 to claim your full match. Keep in mind this could be different from what you had to set aside in 2022 if you got a raise or your employer changed its matching formula.
Try an IRA
If your employer doesn't offer a 401(k) or yours doesn't have a match, you may prefer to save with an IRA. This account gives you greater freedom to invest how you'd like, which also helps you control how much you're paying in fees. And you can contribute to one as long as your annual income meets or exceeds your total contributions for the year.
IRAs also enable you to choose when you want to pay taxes on your money. Traditional IRAs give you a tax break up front, but you must pay taxes on your contributions and earnings in retirement. Roth IRAs give you tax-free retirement withdrawals if you pay taxes on your contributions in the year you make them. Generally, Roth IRAs are the wiser move if you believe you'll be in the same or a higher tax bracket in retirement. But you may not be able to contribute to one directly if your income is too high.
Regardless of which type of IRA you choose, you're limited to $6,500 in contributions during 2023. If you're 50 or older, you may make a catch-up contribution of up to $1,000 as well. These limits are slightly up from 2022.
Or consider a health savings account
Health savings accounts (HSAs) make great retirement accounts, even if they weren't designed for the purpose. But you can only contribute to one of these if you have a high-deductible health insurance plan. For 2023, that's one with a deductible of $1,500 or more for an individual or $3,000 or more for a family.
You can contribute up to $3,850 to one of these accounts in 2023 if you have an individual health insurance plan or $7,750 if you have a family plan. All contributions reduce your taxable income for the year, and if you use the money for medical expenses at any age, it's tax-free. You can make nonmedical withdrawals as well, but it's usually not a good idea to do this while you're under 65 because you'll pay a 20% early withdrawal penalty on top of taxes.
If you choose to save in an HSA, make sure you choose a provider that will enable you to invest your funds. Otherwise, you won't earn much in interest over the years. You can open one of these accounts with many banks and brokers. Look into the fees associated with the account before you sign up, and see if you can set up automatic transfers to your HSA so you don't have to make contributions manually.
You don't have to pick just one
If you're torn between a couple of the accounts above, you could always use more than one. You could start with your 401(k) until you get your match, then switch to your IRA. If you max that out, then you could go back to your 401(k) or save in an HSA. Think about all of the options available to you and choose the ones that best align with your retirement savings strategy.