If a while ago, the responsibility of planning a retirement fund was that of the employer, nowadays, it has shifted to the employee. To be more precise, there was a shift from a benefit pension to a 401K plan. If you’re not familiar with what these types of retirement strategies entail, we’re here to tell you all about them. Moreover, we’re going to consider the issue of pension vs 401K and see which one of them is the better option for you.
Pension vs 401K: Main Differences
The most important difference between a pension and a 401K is the fact that a pension is a defined benefit plan, while a 401K is a defined contribution plan. How do these differ, you ask? Well, a defined benefit plan provides people with a monthly sum that goes straight to their retirement fund. A defined contribution plan involves people choosing how much they want to invest in their retirement. As a result, the investments risks shift from the employer to the employee.
Still, this is not the only difference between a pension and a 401K. They’re also available in different ways and under different circumstances. Nowadays, most employers offer a 401K instead of a pension. That’s because it diminishes the risks they’re exposed to, as well as being cheaper. For employees, if they’re willing to work in just one place for a long time, pensions are more attractive. On the other hand, if they want to have the freedom to switch jobs and know that someone will still contribute to their retirement fund, a 401K might be better.
Which One Is Better?
The answer to this question depends a lot on what you’re looking for in a job and what your future plans are. It also depends on how much money you make. For instance, people who work in high-paying jobs benefit the most from a pension, much more than from a 401K. People with a lower income also gain more in time from a 401K than from a pension. Still, they don’t gain as much as the previous category. Which is why people have mixed feelings about employers shifting from pensions to 401Ks.
A lot of people still prefer pensions, because they have a certain guarantee that 401Ks don’t. They guarantee you’ll never stop receiving money. Plus, since the employer is responsible for the pension, you don’t have to worry about maintenance.
Still, 401Ks also come with several advantages that might make them better for some people. For example, you’ll always have full access to the money you’ve collected. This is not something that one can say about a pension. Moreover, you don’t have to stay at a job that you don’t like just because you’re afraid you’re going to lose your retirement fund. You can also contribute to your 401K, but this is not mandatory, as in the case of a pension.
All in all, if we were to look at the issue of pension vs 401K and decide which one is better, we would say that for people who are looking for a more flexible retirement plan (which is the case with most employees nowadays), a 401K might be the answer. However, they should also keep in mind this means they’ll have to be more involved and manage their pension by themselves.
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