People really don't talk enough about how saving for retirement works. Most people think that they'll be fine if they just put away some money here or there. Others believe the key to the whole process is just investing in stocks. The truth, however, is more complicated.
This guide focuses on a completely different type of investment. We're looking not at bonds and stocks but rather at gold IRAs that allow owners to invest in gold bars and coins. This is a type of investment that's not just meant to grow wealth but to protect it from an uncertain economy.
Moving your money from a more traditional retirement account to a gold IRA is referred to as an IRA rollover. This term represents moving your money and the complete process of opening your own self-directed retirement account.
This guide's main purpose is helping you not just learn a little more about how this process works but also how to roll over your money more efficiently. This will let you get to the place you need to invest with fewer problems and less stress.
It should be noted that we're specifically focusing on rollovers here. While you absolutely can open a new account and fund it with cash, rollovers are used as a strategy to maximize your tax advantages when moving around your savings.
It's also important to note that rolling over really isn't the same thing as a transfer. While people do tend to use the terms interchangeably, focusing on rollovers is our goal here. A 401k to gold IRA rollover can be confusing to deal with, of course, but that's ultimately the purpose of this guide.
Transfer vs. Rollover: What's The Difference?
Though most people will use the two terms to mean the same thing informally, the IRS actually has precise definitions of both a transfer and rollover.
A rollover into a gold IRA is specifically a move that requires that your existing retirement account be cashed out before moving it over to the new retirement account. On the other hand, a transfer is a process by which the custodian of your current IRA does a funds transfer to the custodian of your new gold IRA.
IRAs represent a unique option for those who are saving for retirement. Precious metals don't typically make up much of a traditional retirement fund, but it's nice to note that this process will allow you to invest in a way that has many unique benefits.
Now we know that rolling over any kind of IRA requires the money to move from your IRA custodian to you. It's important to know that one of the biggest rules of rolling over into a gold IRA is that you only have sixty days to move your money to a new IRA custodian from the days of your initial disbursement.
So, what happens if you fail to meet that sixty-day deadline? In that case, you're no longer rolling things over - you're making a taxable withdrawal, and you'll be subject to an early withdrawal fee of ten percent if you're under fifty-nine and a half years old. As you can imagine, then, you want to be quick with your rollover.
Luckily, those who move quickly won't have to worry about any penalty fees. What you will have to worry about, though, is how often you make this move. You can only roll things over once a year, whether you're moving to another traditional account or a Gold IRA.
Transfers, as you'll recall, don't require you to touch your money. Instead, the money moves from one custodian to another. The good news for you is that this totally eliminates the possibility of getting that transfer penalty because you'll never technically see the money.
As you might expect, these transfers are really just wire transfers from one custodian to another. While this can be done by check, it's always more secure to just wire over the money. It's very typical to see a wire transfer done for precious metals investing, as getting the money to an account quickly is often quite helpful.
Rollover 401k to Gold IRA
It's always a good idea to learn about the rules surrounding the accounts you may have. 401(k) plans, for example, have specific rules depending on the type of account that you're holding. If it's an old 401(k), you can generally roll things over with no problems. You might need permission from your place of work to rollover 401k to gold IRA if you are currently employed with them and have a newer 401k.
It's always a good idea to stop and think about what you can get from a 401(k) before considering your rollover. There are usually ways for you to get around many of the restrictions to moving your money, but even then, you'll need to be aware of those restrictions before you can really get started.
To understand everything going on, though, you'll need to look a little more closely at a rollover's complete process.
Being able to hold precious metals in your retirement account is relatively new. It's only been since the passage of the 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act that this has been a possibility. As you might imagine, this has opened up several new investing possibilities for those looking to diversify their retirement accounts.
The first step in figuring out if a rollover is right for you requires talking to your current employer. You'll need to check to see if it can be rolled over at all - a question that might be harder to answer than you imagine.
From here, you'll probably need to start thinking about tax issues. The good news is the IRS doesn't typically tax your contributions until you retire. The bad news, though, is that the IRS sets down enough rules for how you can and can't invest in gold in these accounts that you'll almost always need some more guidance to invest successfully.
So, what rules does the IRS set about gold? You'll have to start with gold that's at least ninety-ninety and a half percent pure and that has a fineness rating of .995. Your gold also has to be held by an IRA custodian in a secure facility. You can only contribute so much a year to your account, and you'll also have to make sure that you're contributing 'new' (that is, not pre-owned) gold to your IRA.
How To Pick The Right Strategy For You
One of the more critical things to consider when looking at a rollover is how your funds will be invested. You need to figure out what percentage of your available funds will go towards the new account - a question that you can only answer.
So, what do professionals have to say on the subject of allocating part of your portfolio towards precious metals? As you might imagine, even the experts are split here.
Some investors rely on a 5-10 percent rule, while others act much more aggressively and might go as high as fifty percent. What's important to remember is that these experts look at wildly different portfolios that might all have very different end goals.
As such, it's more often than not a good idea to ask yourself a few questions before you settle on an allocation strategy. You'll need to know how you feel about the economy right now, as well as about the future of the economy. You'll need to think about why you're looking to invest in gold, how your current retirement portfolio is doing, and even when you're looking to retire.
As a note, we're not here to provide you with any kind of financial advice. We're looking to help you ask yourself some critical questions and take those same questions to qualified advisors. A professional's help is always going to be a necessity when making moves like this.
With that said, we have seen a few strategies that are quite popular among investors. Some of these strategies may be beneficial to you.
Protection and Diversification
Your current retirement portfolio is probably mainly dedicated to items like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. That's the norm, of course, but it also means that you're keeping a lot of money in the same place. That's why diversifying a bit and putting five to ten percent of your portfolio value is a good idea - it allows you to spread your money around and keep some of it safe.
As you might imagine, the actual amount you're going to put into gold depends on your own personal risk tolerance. If you're very sour on the economy in general, you'll probably want to put more than that five or ten percent into gold. Likewise, it makes sense to put more money into precious metals as you close in on retirement, as doing so does tend to protect that money.
US Dollar Losing Trust
Unfortunately, there's not a lot of trust left in the United States dollar these days. Even more unfortunately, that same level of distrust also extends to many international currencies. That's one of the biggest reasons why many investors in the current economic climate choose to put 20-30 percent of retirement funds into metals like gold.
Gold tends to stand out because people have trusted it for centuries. Today, it works as a good bulwark against mounting economic issues. When inflation occurs, gold tends to keep its value. As such, investors have been using gold as a way to keep their wealth's value stored just in case things tend to go poorly with the dollar.
Confidence Completely Lost In The Financial System
Some people go a little farther than just mistrusting the dollar. Some believe the entire system is sitting on a precipice and could fall off at any moment. The smart thing to do for those in this situation is to invest up to thirty percent of their portfolios in gold.
The average investor's problem with this is that gold markets can and do fluctuate just like the other markets. If gold drops, so too will the value of your portfolio. That, perhaps, is why most experts agree that playing things safe and putting less than this amount in gold or silver is usually the best play.
It really does need to be noted that all of these strategies are just that - strategies. They can give you some information, of course, but nothing as valuable as working with a financial planner and advisor.
It is also essential to remember that you can't just invest in any kind of gold when you have a gold IRA. You'll need to invest in approved bars and coins, as investing in items that are not IRS approved could lead to a loss of the benefits that come with an IRA.
Note as well that some IRAs allow you to make investments in things other than physical metals. A Gold ETF or stocks from gold companies might not require storage, but they don't give you the same benefits that you get from investing in physical metals.
If you're a bit confused by this, it might be good to talk about the difference between paper and physical gold.
ETFs vs. Physical Gold: The Differences
There's a world of difference when comparing physical gold and paper gold in ETF form. Paper gold is a term used to refer to things like Gold ETFs or stocks, while physical gold is just that - physical. If you're looking to diversify your account by investing in something that's not tied to the stock market, physical gold is the way to go.
Physical metals have a host of benefits that paper metals can't match. You can move them when you want, all without a loss of value. You don't have to worry about another party failing to live up to their end of the bargain when you have physical metals, as you'll have the metals yourself. You even get the benefit of something that stores value, which can help you out immensely in brief periods of uncertainty.
More than anything, though, the benefit of physical gold is ownership. You have many options with gold in hand. You can sell it, store it, even have it made into jewelry. Sometimes it's just nice to know that something is yours.
If you are going to invest in an account that works with gold ETFs, though, you're going to want to make sure that you're doing so the right way. You'll need to realize that you're dealing with a part of the market that is inherently risky and that you know how it's going to work for you up until the moment that you choose to retire.
Quite frankly, it's hard for most people to get their minds around the fact that there's a considerable amount of difference between real and paper gold. If you're confused, the best move you can make is to talk to a qualified advisor who can guide you with these investments. Understanding everything you can about how your money is being invested is one of the things you owe yourself most.
What Restrictions Are In Place for Coins and Bars
You must be aware of the IRS restrictions on your ability to invest in both bars and coins. As we've mentioned before, you'll have to invest in gold that has 99.9% purity levels. While that might sound difficult, this purity level includes some of the most popular coins out there like the Gold and Silver Buffalo from the United States, the Maple Leaf from Canada, and the Austrian Philharmonic.
You are going to need to make sure that you're doing your homework before you make the switch from a more traditional Roth IRA to a self-direct gold IRA. Doing so has many advantages, but that doesn't mean that you can go in blind. The more you know about what you're going to do next, the better.
Remember, every piece of gold and silver that goes into your IRA has to be approved for use in an IRA. That means making sure that you're investing not only in the gold that's IRS approved but also by your IRA custodian. For most, this means skipping over the kinds of items you'd find at a pawn shop in favor of the items that you know won't end up costing you money in the long run.
You have to go into this process by remembering that you're investing in a very particular type of IRA. There are enough rules here that making the wrong choices can be easy, so make sure that you stay in contact with your advisor and your custodian when you can. Doing so will help you to avoid major pitfalls that could end up causing you trouble when it comes time to retire.
How To Choose a Gold Company
If you've decided that you would like to roll your account over into a gold IRA, you must work with the right company. The only way to accomplish this is taking the time to do the research, looking to see how these companies work and what others think about them. There's no one correct answer for every consumer, though, but everyone does need to be as careful as possible.
The biggest reason to exercise care is that you need to work with someone you can trust to guard your wealth. There are "bad actors" out there who would rather spend time selling you collector coins than anything you can use for your investments. This means that you're going to get items that won't give you the same kind of tax breaks on which you may be depending.
You also need to be careful because you only get to rollover your account once every year without incurring tax penalties. Again, you have sixty days to roll things over to your new custodian fully, or else you'll have to deal with fees and penalties. Since you're actually looking to keep your wealth, you'll want to do all your research ahead of time.
You'll always need to make sure that the custodian you work with can give you all of the information you need to set up and complete your rollover. If you're able to complete all of the paperwork ahead of your final date, you won't have to worry about going over that sixty-day time limit. The more work you do upfront, the less you'll have to worry about your financial future.
In short, it's natural to be excited about investing in gold and silver, but it's still something that you need to invest in carefully and with plenty of research beforehand.
The excellent news for investors is that there are hundreds of authorized gold dealers all across the United States. We have managed to narrow the whole list down to three of the best.
Augusta Precious Metals
Birch Gold Group
Those who wish to invest in gold and silver are better off if they abandon the traditional 401(k) format and look to invest in precious metals IRAs. It's a solid way to diversify your portfolio and a great way to get the most out of your new investments.
These self-directed IRAs allow you to get more out of your retirement accounts because you can invest in alternative investments. Rules do apply, though, and if you don't follow the regulations, you can suffer some severe tax consequences.
It might be a challenging undertaking to figure out how to best save for retirement, but you don't have to do all the work on your own. Talk to your financial advisor to figure out where best to put your money and how these transfers work. With the correct information, this whole process can be far less stressful.
We hope that this free gold IRA guide has been helpful to you and that you'll be able to use it to take your first steps in rolling over your accounts.
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