The Frugal Fiduciary Small Business 401(k) Blog
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401(k) plans must define a 12-month “plan year” for annual administration purposes. Most plans choose a calendar year for administrative ease. A new plan can specify a period that’s shorter than a full 12-months for its initial plan year by choosing a mid-year effective date. However, establishing a short plan year with a mid-year effective date is often a bad idea. Most plans are better off making their effective date retroactive to the first day of the normal plan year - January 1 in the case of a calendar-based plan – to establish a 12-month initial plan year.
Small businesses can have dramatically different goals for their 401(k) plan. The process of matching business goals to available 401(k) plan options is called plan design. Expert plan design can help a business minimize contribution expenses, improve employee participation, and/or avoid nondiscrimination test failures. As a business owner, you should settle for no less than expert plan design guidance from your 401(k) provider. The entire process can take 30 minutes or less.
Subscribe to the The Frugal Financial Small Business 401(k) Blog and receive this free checklist for help in determing the best 401(k) plan design options and fit for your company.
Not all 401(k) plans are created equal. Plans with minimal administration fees and top-rated investments can deliver dramatically higher returns for participants than plans with excessive fees and underperforming investments. Over time, these higher returns can help participants retire years sooner. Given the stakes, I recommend you settle for no less when saving for retirement.
When a small business offers a 401(k) plan, it’s often a win-win for business owners and employees. A 401(k) plan can help businesses attract and retain talent, incentivize performance, and lower taxes, while helping employees – including the business owner – meet their retirement goals. If you're a business owner, you've probably asked yourself at some point what you and your employees stand to gain by offering a 401(k) plan. The answer is probably a lot. Here are some of the top benefits.
To plan for retirement, 401(k) participants should set a savings goal and develop a strategy for reaching that goal. To reach their goal at the lowest out-of-pocket cost, I recommend participants follow a simple 4-step strategy – start early, contribute regularly, invest appropriately, and lower fees. However, to reach their goal as soon as possible, participants will need some help from their 401(k) plan. Here are the three 401(k) plan features that can help any saver – including you – retire years sooner.
401(k) plans must operate according to the terms of a written plan document to meet IRS qualification requirements. Most plans use an IRS “preapproved” document for this purpose. These documents must be fully rewritten (or “restated”) every six years to reflect recent law changes. The last 6-year restatement cycle was called “PPA” after the Pension Protection Act of 2006. A new cycle - called "Cycle 3" or "Post-PPA" - opened last year. From August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2022, all pre-approved 401(k) plans must be restated onto a post-PPA document.