If you want to retire early, your investment strategy may need to be a little different from a person who plans to keep working well into his or her 60s and beyond. That's because with many retirement savings plans, including 401(k)s and IRAs, you could be charged a tax penalty if you withdraw money before age 59½.
You also generally won't be eligible to start receiving partial Social Security benefits until age 62, or full benefits a few years later. If you plan to leave work earlier than that, you may need to tweak your investment efforts. Here's a look at different options to consider.
Roth IRA and Roth 401(k)
With a traditional IRA or employer-sponsored 401(k) account, you don't have to pay taxes on the money you contribute until you withdraw it. But if you retire early and choose to withdraw from these accounts before age 59½, you could be charged a 10% penalty, in addition to the regular tax payment.
A better option could be a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k), in which you contribute after-tax income. Then, after only a five year waiting period, you could make withdrawals without tax penalties. An added benefit of Roth plans is that any earnings are also generally tax-free.
Some pension plans let you make early withdrawals without penalty. But here's the spoiler: Not many exist. You generally see this type of plan offered to people who work in government jobs, such as police officers and firefighters.
If you're planning to retire early, you probably need to save on an accelerated schedule, which may mean investing in other types of accounts, including real estate. There are tax advantages to investing in property, and you wouldn't necessarily have to wait until retirement age to start receiving income from such investments. Other options are stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
Health care planning
Beyond building your savings, one of the biggest benefits to remaining on the job is to have access to health care. If you retire early, you may need to pay out of pocket for medical coverage until you reach an age where you're eligible for Medicare, typically age 65.
Not everyone has to keep working past 60, or even 50. If you accelerate savings, plan ahead and invest in the right types of accounts, you could put yourself in a good position to retire early.
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