A questioner on Investopedia.com asks:
I contribute about 10% to my 401k. I want to know more about Roth IRAs. I have one with my company, but haven’t contributed any percentage yet as I am not sure how much I should contribute. What exactly is a Roth IRA? Additionally, what is the ideal contribution to a 401k for someone making $48K a year?
Here was my reply:
A Roth IRA is a retirement account. It differs from a regular IRA in two important aspects. First the negative: you do not get a tax deduction for contributing to a Roth IRA. But there is a big positive: you do not have to pay taxes on money you take out during retirement. And, like a regular IRA, your money grows sheltered from taxes. There’s also another bonus to Roth IRAs: unlike regular IRAs, there are no rules requiring you to take annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your Roth IRA, even after you reach age 70 1/2.
In general, the tax benefits of being able to get money out of a Roth IRA outweigh the advantages of the immediate tax deduction you get from making a contribution to a regular IRA. The younger you are and the lower your tax bracket, the bigger the benefit of a Roth IRA.
There is no “ideal” contribution to a 401k plan unless there is a company match. You should always take full advantage of a company match because it is essentially “free money” that the company gives you.