Joe Anderson
ABOUT Joseph

As CEO and President, Joe Anderson has created a unique, ambitious business model utilizing advanced service, training, sales, and marketing strategies to grow Pure Financial Advisors into the trustworthy, client-focused company it is today. Pure Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), was ranked 15 out of 100 top ETF Power Users by RIA channel (2023), was [...]

Alan Clopine

Alan Clopine is the Executive Chairman of Pure Financial Advisors, LLC (Pure). He has been an executive leader of the Company for over a decade, including CFO, CEO, and Chairman. Alan joined the firm in 2008, about one year after it was established. In his tenure at Pure, the firm has grown from approximately $50 [...]

Andi Last

Andi Last brings over 30 years of broadcasting, media, and marketing experience to Pure Financial Advisors. She is the producer of the Your Money, Your Wealth® podcast, radio show, and TV show and manages the firm's YouTube channels. Prior to joining Pure, Andi was Media Operations Manager for a San Diego-based financial services firm with [...]

Published On
May 7, 2024

Kyle and his fiancée are in their 30s, have done a great job saving, and are in a high tax bracket. Would it make more sense for them to contribute to their 401(k)s or Roth 401(k)s for retirement? Mick’s wife Pam has both W-2 and sole proprietor income – where should she save for retirement? Plus, Joe and Big Al spitball for Janet on where junk bonds belong in a portfolio, they untangle the pro-rata and aggregation rules concerning 401(k) to Roth conversions for Nancy, and they spitball on whether Cary and Mark should retire now or work for two more years when pensions will provide them an extra $50K a year. 

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Show Notes

  • (00:57) We’re in Our 30s and in a High Tax Bracket. Where Should We Save for Retirement? (Kyle, WI)
  • (07:34) Junk Bonds Explained (Janet, the Bronx)
  • (13:19) Does Pro-Rata Rule Apply When Converting 401(k) to Roth 401(k)? (Nancy, SE Wisconsin)
  • (20:37) We Have $4M. Should We Retire Now or in Two Years When Pensions Provide an Extra $50K/Year? (Cary & Mark, Los Angeles)
  • (27:50) How to Save for Retirement with Sole Proprietor and W-2 Work? (Mick, Davis, CA)
  • (36:47) The Derails

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Andi: Kyle and his fiancée are in their 30s, have done a great job saving, and are in a high tax bracket. Would it make more sense for them to contribute to their 401(k)s or Roth 401(k)s? Mick’s wife Pam has W-2 and sole proprietor income – where should she be saving for retirement? That’s today on Your Money, Your Wealth® podcast number 480. Plus, Joe and Big Al spitball for Janet on where junk bonds belong in a portfolio, they untangle the pro-rata and aggregation rules with respect to 401(k) to Roth Conversions for Nancy, and they spitball on whether Cary and Mark should retire now or work for two more years, when pensions will provide them an extra $50K a year. Visit YourMoneyYourWealth.com and click Ask Joe and Big Al On Air to get your own Retirement Spitball Analysis, or to send in a more unusual money question to keep the fellas on their toes. I’m producer Andi Last, and here are the hosts of Your Money, Your Wealth®, Joe Anderson, CFP® and Big Al Clopine, CPA.

We’re in Our 30s and in a High Tax Bracket. Where Should We Save for Retirement? (Kyle, WI)

Joe: We got Kyle from Wisconsin. “Hey guys. Me 32, fiancée 31, reassessing our retirement accounts. Want to get your thoughts? We both started saving early and have account balance as such, $400,000 in the traditional 401(k).” A little nice start there.

Al: You bet. Amazing.

Joe: “160,000 in Roth accounts. We currently make $250,000 a year combined, and we both have 401(k)s that provide Roth and traditional options.  Since we’re in a high tax bracket currently, would it make more sense to contribute more to the traditional IRA and reduce our AGI now?  Or would that strategy lead to excessive RMDs when we retire?”

Kyle, you’re 32.  RMDs. He’s thinking about RMDs.  He’s 32 years old.

Andi: And listens to this show.

Joe: Which is like 40 years from now.

Al: Yeah, age 75, 43 years.

Joe: Do not worry about RMDs.  You’re 32 years old. You make a good income. You’re pounding money into the Roth. Keep pounding money into the Roth IRA, compound tax-free. Keep doing that. Don’t try to get cute about RMDs when you retire in 400 years.

Al: The 24% bracket right now, I don’t know how much you’re making, but that, that goes up to $380,000, standard deduction, $30,000.

Joe: But he’s single.

Al: I thought he was married.

Joe: His fiancée.

Al: Oh, fiancée. You’re right. You’re right.  Maybe you should get married by December 31st for this strategy. Right. So, but, but if, if you get married between now and year end. Good point Joe. Then you can actually make about $410,000 from a taxable income. Or no, that’s $410,000 of total income, right, and still be in the 24% bracket. That would be a combination of, if you’re married, that would be your salary, your wife’s salary, any other income that you might have.

Joe: So they make $250,000 combined. Any strategies for high earning couple? Alright, you’re 32 and you have $400,000, $500,000, $600,000 saved. So you’re doing a hell of a job. You’re saving a ton. I want to take the uncertainty of taxes off the table. I’ve been saving in retirement accounts, mostly Roth. This is just me because I’m paranoid about paying taxes in the future. And it was like, you know what, I’m going to forego the tax deduction today to get the compounding effect. So I can have tax-free money when I need it the most when I’m not working.  So if you ran the math and some of my strategy, it would not look like Alan’s. It would not be like CPA precise. It was more emotional based because I didn’t mix, you know, I’m not like complaining about the tax deduction that I didn’t get by putting my money into the Roth IRA versus my traditional, my pre-tax account.

It’s like, oh, well, I would have saved $5000 in taxes. You know what? I don’t miss that $5000 at all. I look at my balance and it’s like, oh, here’s my balance in my Roth 401(k) or my Roth IRA.  And I look at that and I say, that’s all mine.  All mine. None goes to the IRS.

Al: Yeah, and I would take a little different approach. I would, I would look at tax rates now versus the future. But the concept, so even so two, two things we know right now is tax rates are low and scheduled to go up in a couple of years, 2026. Now, if you’re- if you’re not married at year end, the top of the 24% is $190,000 plus the standard deduction. Call it $200,000 of income. So you said we currently make $250,000. I don’t know how much is yours versus hers, but if you can stay below, you know, a couple of hundred thousand of income with Roth conversions or not Roth conversions, but just having the Roth component, I would do that. If you get married, you’ve got all kinds of room. Consider this too, when you’re in a high bracket at, in your early 30s, you will probably be higher later, right? So the more money you can get to the Roth now is going to be something you’re probably going to be glad you did.

Joe: So I think here’s my theory on myself.  How many- how many retirement scenarios do you think you and I have ran over the last 20 years?

Al: That’s a great question. 1000?

Joe: 1000.

Al: I don’t know.

Joe: We have 5000 clients, we’ve helped 1000s of people on this podcast, and so once I retire, I don’t ever, ever, ever want to do this again.  Not even for myself.

Al: You want to get out of the business. Got it.

Joe: So it’s all going to be tax-free. So I don’t even care about taxes anymore. It’s that that’s my strategy.

Al: Yeah, right. Yeah. And it’s interesting.

Joe: You’re still grinding. You’re grinding away. And then when you stop this, you’re still going to be looking at your tax return and just trying to, you know, maneuver things around.

Al: Actually-

Joe: You know how hard it is to keep up to speed on all these different taxes each and every year? I don’t want to be doing that when I’m 70.

Al: Well, I don’t necessarily either, but now I’m still helping clients, so I have to. But maybe this will surprise you. So yesterday I was in a- in a client call. He’s got a bunch of real estate. He wants to sell. We went through the options, outright sale, 1031 exchange to see apartments, tenant in common, single triple net lease, DSTs-

Joe: – low-income housing.

Al: We went through all this stuff and, and he goes, well, my sister who, part owner, she’s an accountant. She says we shouldn’t do the DSTs or the, the single tenant triple net lease because we don’t get the 20% deduction.  Right? You know, that you get for a business and I just said, yeah, well,  here’s how I think about it. Do the choice- because he’s got plenty of money- do the choice that works for you. I would say lifestyle first and then we’ll then figure it out. Your partner, your sister is a CPA and I get it and she’s right.  What, you know, life’s too short. You do what you want to do and then we’ll, you know, we’ll do the best we can with what your choice is.

Joe: She was talking about what- QBI?

Al: Yep.

Joe: I don’t know that QBI that’s going to dictate my-

Al: No, not me. No.

Junk Bonds Explained (Janet, the Bronx)

Joe: Andi Last, you want me to read this junk bond one?

Andi: It’s short, which should make it like one of your favorites.

Joe: All right.  “This show is great.  I have two questions for Joe and Big Al. They are, number one, should junk bonds be considered stock or bond for asset allocation purposes? Number two, should I put a junk bond fund in a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA?” All right, let’s explain what this is. So junk bond, that’s a high yield bond.

Al: Right. Yeah. Better return.

Joe: I wouldn’t say that.

Al: Well, as it is, as long as it says stay solvent, whatever the bond is backed by, it’s generally a better return because you’re taking more risk. There’s a lot- there’s a lot more risk of default. That’s the problem there.

Joe: So, high yield bonds, otherwise known as junk bonds, junk quality. So, you’re taking on more risk. So, a bond is a loan.  So, the corporation is saying, hey, we need capital and I’m going to pay you an interest rate.  So, let’s say you have a really strong company like AT&T, Google, Alphabet, Meta, whatever. Right? So they’re going to issue bonds. But they’re pretty- they’re pretty big companies. So the interest rate that you’re going to receive is probably going to be a lot less than small companies that are, might be on the verge of trouble. Not necessarily bankruptcy, but there could be some trouble along the horizon here.

Al: Could be. And there, I mean, let’s be honest, there could be bankruptcy too, which then means your- your bond defaults and you may not get your money back.

Joe: So, does it, so that’s what a junk bond is, or a high yield bond. So high yield bonds are more, a little bit more volatile when you buy the fund, some could say they almost act like a stock. So the question that they’re asking is, you know, should a junk bond be considered a stock or a bond for asset allocation purposes?

Al: Sure.

Joe: I would say, no, it’s a bond. It’s still a bond. It’s a fixed income instrument. So that would be part of my- my bond portfolio. So depending on how you are constructing the portfolio, that would be part of my fixed income allocation.

Al: Yeah, I agree with that. I think it’s a bond.

Joe: It is a bond.

Al: Yeah. Well, for allocation, let me complete the sentence.

Joe: Got it.

Al: I think it should be, it’s a bond. It is a bond and it should be part of your bond allocation. And then, so I don’t- I don’t personally have any junk bonds and I don’t personally ever necessarily recommend them to friends or clients. But if you want one, should you put in your IRA or your Roth? Well, I’d still rather put stocks and stock mutual funds in your Roth just because the higher expected return. But let’s just say you have 100% bonds. Then as long as the bonds don’t evaporate, as long as the company is solvent, that’s backing them, then you’d rather have it in your Roth because they have a higher expected return, but there’s a risk. And so you got the money to the Roth, you already paid taxes on it. And then all of a sudden this bond just becomes junk. Hence the risk, it becomes worth zero.

Joe: A bond is so different than a stock. And people sometimes don’t understand that.  Is that there is a expected rate of return in a stock. You’re buying equity within an overall organization. A bond is just a loan and a loan can default and you’re not an owner of the company. So if I’m an owner of the company and they have some trouble times and you rebound from that, you still own part of that company.  If I’m a bond holder and I default, the bond is gone. I’m not saying there’s a lot of defaults that happen, but the instrument of a bond or the security of a bond is, is different than a stock. So just understand what you’re owning and what you’re buying, and if you understand what the risks associated with it. And you’re right, Alan, if he had 100% or she had a- who? Who are we talking to here? It doesn’t say.

Andi: Janet in the Bronx.

Joe: Oh, Janet. If Janet had 100% bonds, then yeah, I would probably want to put my junk bonds in the Roth. Because you will receive a higher expected rate of return as long as there’s no default, but you’re taking on a lot of credit risk.

Al: No, yeah, no default. So, I mean, there’s one, there’s an advantage of bonds over stocks in that if there is a corporate liquidation, a bankruptcy, bondholders have preferential treatment to stockholders, so there’s more chance that you’d get some of your money back. So that’s the only- that’s really to me one of the only advantages of bonds, but the junk bonds – higher rate of return, for me personally, it’s not worth the risk of having that higher return.

Andi: You’ve heard the famous Warren Buffet quote, “Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful”? Buffet and his Berkshire Hathaway colleague, Charlie Munger, have influenced countless investors over the course of more than half a century. They’re known for their financial acumen and homespun wisdom. Berkshire’s annual meeting, aka the Woodstock of Capitalism, just took place last weekend, the first since Munger’s passing. Check out our latest blog post to see what investors everywhere can learn from some of Buffet and Munger’s most famous quotes on success, business, investing, and swimming naked. And you know how, on financial TV and radio reports, you’ll hear things like, “The Dow was up 500 points today, while the S&P was up 2%.” We also have a new blog  that explains these stock market indexes, their uses, their importance, and which indexes you as an investor should focus on. Find links to both of these blogs in the description of today’s episode in your favorite podcast app – and download a copy of the 2024 Key Financial Data Guide to have the resource Joe and Big Al use when they spitball for you!

Does Pro-Rata Rule Apply When Converting 401(k) to Roth 401(k)? (Nancy, SE Wisconsin)

We got Nancy from Southeast Wisconsin. “Big Al, Yo Joe, Awesome Andi, really love listening to the show. It keeps me on my toes and I, for some strange reason, get to test my knowledge based on the questions and your non-advice answers.  Don’t ask me why I do this. I’m a law, lifelong data and details geek. I live in S.E. Wisconsin. I drive a 2006 Prius. My kids are grown and moved away years ago. No more pets. My favorite drink is iced tea.  As I have about 20 different types of tea to keep my water flavor from being boring.” 20 different types of tea.

Al: That she likes. Yeah.

Joe: “I have a 401(k), a Roth IRA, a brokerage account, two traditional IRAs and inherited IRA and inherited Roth IRA. I’m retired and have started converting Roth IRAs due to the large amounts of my 401(k) in the non-inherited IRA accounts. Last year, my employer included an option to be able to convert the 401(k) to the Roth 401(k). I converted a chunk of that 2023. However, what I was expecting was for Vanguard to create a separate 401(k) Roth account. Instead, the 401(k) and the 401(k) Roth are in the same account, but I can see the separate funds in each part of the account. For reference, I’m over 60. I did not put any post-tax money into the 401(k) before I retired. The only money in the 401(k) prior to the 2023 conversion was pre-tax money.”  You following, Al? You’re, you’re good with Nancy’s predicament?

Al: I’m good. Yep.

Joe: All right. “When researching the pro-rata rule, I can only find information about converting a 401(k) or IRA to a Roth IRA as compared to converting a 401(k) to a 401(k) Roth. Here’s my question.  All are related to the clarification of a 401(k) Roth versus a 401(k) IRA account.”  Okay, well, there’s no such thing as a 401(k) IRA account. So she’s saying pre-tax 401(k) versus the Roth provision in the 401(k).

Al: That’s, I think that’s exactly right.

Andi: The traditional 401(k).

Al: Well, they don’t even call it that, but anyway, but yeah.

Joe: Yeah, there’s no such thing as a traditional 401(k).

Andi: Okay.

Joe: It’s 401(k). And then there’s a Roth provision in the 401(k).

Al: Correct.

Joe: “I am now going to run into the pro rata rule when converting more of my old 401(k) to Roth 401(k) because they are in the same account.”  She’s getting confused on the conversion rules here. So when you’re converting IRA dollars into Roth IRA dollars, and you have after-tax dollars in the IRA, you’re subject to pro rata and aggregation rules. She’s converting 401(k) to the Roth 401(k). There’s no pro-rata, there’s no aggregation, it’s all pre-tax, you just pay the tax on whatever you convert.

Al: Yeah. And you’re right. That’s the distinction is it’s all taxable, right? When you have an IRA with, you know, you have that pro-rata rule. Some of it is your conversion is taxable. Some may not be, but in this case, it’s all taxable. It doesn’t matter.

Joe: “Do I need to move the 401(k) Roth funds to my regular Roth IRA account in to avoid the pro rata rule on my next 401(k) conversion?” No.  There’s no pro-rata rule.  What would she be thinking the pro-rata rule is? Every dollar that she converts from her pre-tax into the Roth, you have to, the pro rata is you’re taking after-tax dollars that are growing tax-deferred that will at some point be taxable at ordinary income. So you have basis in a contribution.  So the pro-rata rule is taking whatever contributions that you’ve made that has basis in the overall account. And then you add that to a pre-tax contribution that does not have basis. And so you add them both together to find out what their true basis is on the overall account. So the pro rata aggregation rule is just to figure out what the basis is on your entire IRA balances. So I, I think Nancy’s all good so far.

Al: Yeah. And I think that’s the key, what you just said. This relates to IRAs, not 401(k)s.

Joe: Okay. “Other than fun option, is there a benefit of moving the Roth 401(k) money to the Roth IRA versus leaving it in the Roth 401(k) account?” Yes and no. There’s, there’s pros and cons to moving the money out, but there’s- there’s pros to keeping the money in. I think it really depends on your preference.

Al: Yeah, I think certainly at the point where you are at RMD age, you probably want it in a Roth IRA because in a Roth 401(k), you’re supposed to take a required minimum distribution even though it’s tax-free. Although that could be changing with new rules.

Joe: “Also, from a conversion perspective, if the pro rata rule does apply to 401(k) Roth, would both the traditional IRA and 401(k) accounts be counted together? I’m assuming the inherited accounts are not impacted since I can’t convert them. Thanks for the clarification.” All right.  Good questions, Nancy. You’re getting in the weeds here, but just understand this IRA, Individual Retirement Account, has different rules then section 401(k). There are two different sections in the IRS code even though they act and look quite a bit.  They are different. So when it comes to these type of specialty rules in regards to conversions, the pro rata rules, aggregation rules. Aggregation rules will be all IRAs together. 401(k)s totally separate animal.

Al: Yeah. And I think maybe just to explain how that the pro rata aggregation rule works, we talk about it in relationship to a backdoor Roth contribution, which works like this. You put $6000, $7000 into a regular IRA, and then you turn right around and you convert it to a Roth. And if you don’t have any other IRAs, then that money is, it’s a, it’s, it’s basically like a contribution. In other words, you already paid tax on the money you put into the IRA and by the time you convert it, you don’t pay any more tax because it’s the same amount. Now, on the other hand, let’s say you’ve got, when you do that $6000 contribution or whatever, and by the time you do that, you’ve got $100,000 in all of your IRAs added together. Well, that, so you got to aggregate them. So that $6000 is part of the, the $100,000. In other words, all IRAs are considered one. So now you’ve got $6000 of tax basis into $100,000 of IRAs, which means that you’re, you only have 6% of your Roth conversion that’s tax-free. The rest is taxable. In a 401(k), 100% is taxable that there’s no other choice. So there’s no, there’s no reason to do this computation.

We Have $4M. Should We Retire Now or in Two Years When Pensions Provide an Extra $50K/Year? (Cary & Mark, Los Angeles)

Joe: We got Cary and Mark calling in, or writing in.

Andi: You could say they call in.

Joe: Calling from Los Angeles. All right. “Hello Joe and Big Al, this is Cary, 61, and Mark, 59. To be honest, our retirement planning has been kind of on autopilot up until this past year.  When we really started to get serious, we started to read articles, as well as started to listen to your podcast. Yeah, we both appreciate your insights and spitballs. I’m pretty sure we won’t be asking any earth-shattering questions here, but every story is a little bit unique. We are contemplating retirement now, versus in two years. We’re both in healthcare and gross about $440,000 a year. We are dog daddies and guncles! But no kids of our own.”  Guncles. Dog daddies. And guncles.  “We have about $1,500,000 in brokerage accounts and another $2,800,000 in retirement accounts-” Man.

Al: That’s a good sum. It’s $4,300,000. If you’re counting.

Joe: That’s a lot of guncles. “-as well as the two rollover IRAs. We both have pensions and if we wait two more years, we’ll get $15,000 a month versus $11,000 a month if we retire this year. We will wait for Social Security when Cary is 67 and Mark is 70. Cary worked most of his career paying into Social Security, but the last 11 years has been working for a government agency that doesn’t pay into Social Security. I used a WEP calculator-” WEP. You know what that means, Big Al.

Al: Yeah.

Andi: I do.

Al: Wealth Elimination Provision.

Joe: No, windfall. Windfall. Windfall.

Al: I screwed it up. Okay. Windfall.

Andi: I’m sure a lot of people do consider it to be the wealth elimination provision.

Al: I got the last two words right.

Joe: So yeah, WEP comes in or windfall elimination provision is when someone does, puts into a- like a government pension where they’re not putting any money into the Social Security Administrator for how many years that they work for that agency. So because how Social Security is calculated, they’re going to take a look at your earnings history and they’re going to look back several years. And if there’s several years that you’re not putting into the system, they’re going to have to eliminate some of the Social Security benefit that you will receive. So the WEP calculator, “-and it does seem that I will be eligible.  Now we have a house here in L. A. currently valued about $1,800,000 to $2,000,000 with $365,000 left on the mortgage. Thanks to SECURE 2.0, and Mark’s employer offering a Roth contribution, we are putting $23,000 in pre-tax and $7500 in Roth portion. Other than that, no other Roth accounts, as we still can’t wrap our head around how it works.  I think we’re in a good spot to retire now, but two years isn’t so long. But would rather retire and enjoy more time drinking our beer and wine and occasionally whiskey sour or anything with gin. We would appreciate your spitball on our current plan.” All right. So we got the Guncles, Cary, Mark, they want to retire now versus two years from now. We got $4,000,000.  And so what is the catch here? Is there like- Well, if we wait two more years, we get a few more thousand dollars on our pension.

Al: Yeah. They wait two years, they get $4000 more a month, or almost $50,000 more a year. But we’re missing a key fact here, which is how much they’re spending.  So it makes it a little difficult to answer the question. But I’m assuming because they think they’re fine retirement wise, they’re spending less than, you know, whatever, 3% or even, you know, whatever of their- of their portfolio. So, so when, when you’re- when you’re 60ish, you know, you might want to think about a 3% distribution or even, or 3.5%, but 3% distribution. So that would be what about $120,000 a year that would come out all right.

Joe: But you’ve got another $130,000 from pension.

Al: Yeah, I know. Right. So, so-

Joe: $50,000.

Al: Yeah, yeah, you’re right. So, you add those two together and if you’re spending less than that, you’re good.

Joe: So, $440,000 today, they live in L. A. They’re saving, they’re maxing out retirement accounts, $440,000. So, probably $150,000 in taxes, maybe, so $300,000, they’re saving another $50,000 of that, so $250,000 is maybe what they’re spending?

Al: Yeah, probably right in line with that. Yeah, so, so they’re probably fine. But, would you work another couple years to get another $50,000 a year?

Joe: Yeah, I would.

Al: I would too.  That’s a lot of money for two years.

Joe: It’s like a, it’s, it’s over $1,000,000 in a lump sum, right? So like, yeah, generate $50,000 a year from a portfolio, you need probably $1,300,000. So, yeah, that’s a good chunk of change for a couple of years. But, you know, I don’t know, they’re not, there’s 61 and 59, so you’re gonna retire at 63 and 62.  I don’t know, Big Al’s still plugging away.  But if you’re tired, if you’re done with it, then, you know, I don’t know, I guess life is too short, going to Al’s usual comment.

Al: Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s right. I-

Joe: You’ve got plenty of cash and you got great fixed income. $50,000 is a drop in the bucket for these guys.

Al: Yeah. I would say based upon what we think we know about you, you can retire right now. Sure. Me personally, I would still work two more years cause that’s, that’s an awful good amount of money, extra money that you have to go on better trips, whatever you want to do. Right.

Andi: Spoil the nieces and nephews.

Al: You bet. You bet. And the dogs. Yeah.

Joe: All right, cool. Congratulations, Cary and Mark from LA.

Andi: And if you want to know exactly how much you can spoil your loved ones and for how long, you can always run your own retirement spitball for free at EASIretirement.com. That’s E-A-S-I retirement dot com. Create a login, enter your income, savings, and expenses, and you’ll see on an interactive chart exactly how long your money will last. Then play with the numbers – adjust your spending and savings and the chart will instantly show you what happens in the future. Then let’s say you want to plan for worst-case scenario. You can switch the calculator’s assumptions for inflation and returns from optimistic to average to pessimistic. Then, take the next step: schedule a one-on-one with a live human financial professional from right there in the calculator to review your results and create even more sophisticated strategies to meet your retirement needs. Start spitballing your retirement now with our free calculator at EASIretirement.com – that’s E-A-S-I retirement dot com

How to Save for Retirement with Sole Proprietor and W-2 Work? (Mick, Davis, CA)

We got “Joe, Big Al Andi. I have a question about where to put retirement savings when you have both a sole proprietor business and a W2 job.  After Pam, my wife of 46 years, left a company, she found, took public and sold, she became a business consultant and created the solo 401(k) at Fidelity.”  Well, Pam was pretty successful there.

Al: Yeah, I guess so. Right.

Joe: She did really well. Good for you.  “Now, after a non-compete clause expired-“ you know, Federal Trade Commission outlawed all non-competes.

Al: Well, I’m not sure they would disallow on a- on like a sale of a business, but just for like general-  general employment contracts, yeah, they don’t like that.

Joe: All right. “-non compete clause expired, she created a new company, her fourth startup.”  Pam.

Al: Wow.

Joe: Wow.  “Her company, she serves in a 3/4 time role where she’ll be a W2 employee, not a 1099 contractor. Her new startup company will offer a 401(k) with a match. In 2024, she will earn money in both her W2 job and her consultant business. Questions: Can she put all of her 2024 savings into a solo 401(k) and treat her salary as part of the profit in profit sharing calculation? Number two, can she put in enough to get the match in a new startup 401(k) and then max out the rest of her solo 401(k)?  If she maxes out her retirement savings, does she have to use both retirement plans proportionately to the amount of income earned in each? Am I making this more complex than it needs to be?” Potentially.  All right, so two things is that in the 1099 business, you can set up something different than a 401(k). So 401(k) law is that if there’s only so much money you can put in a defined contribution plan because the contribution is defined by the IRS. So if I’m putting money into a 401(k) plan, and I have a job that has a 401(k) plan, and I set up my own solo 401(k) plan, I can only put the maximum allowable amount into a 401(k) plan. You can split it half and half into each plan, but I can’t max out both plans.

Al: Yeah, although there is a potential issue here, Joe, and that is when you are, I’m assuming she’s 100% owner of both companies. And generally the IRS looks on that as then those you got to aggregate the companies and have a similar retirement plan. The reason they have that role is because so they like, what if you had like a really successful company, right? But you didn’t want to cover all your employees in a 401(k) plan. So you set up this little side business and you funnel some profits into that. So you can have your own big fat retirement plan and not cover the employees. Well, IRS doesn’t like that too much. So just, it doesn’t seem like you can do this, but, get some professional advice before you do anything, but I’m guessing you’re not going to be allowed to do what you’re thinking.

Joe: Yeah. What? I forget the name of that again. What is that?

Al: It’s something like the aggregation rule or something where, where, where you have more than 80% ownership in two companies, they got to be aggregated together as though they were a single company, something like that, Joe.

Joe: But they have to be in the same industry. So if they’re totally different businesses, then-

Al: No, no, I don’t think so. Because then there’s another rule that, that says if they’re, if they’re in the same, I think- it’s been a while since I looked this up, but I think there’s another rule where if it’s, if it’s the same businesses, even though you don’t have the 80% ownership that then you still might have to aggregate them. I’m going to tell you this. I’m spent a while since I looked at the rules, just get some professional help before you do anything, because I think you may have a problem with owning 100% of two companies.

Joe: Okay, but let’s just assume that she’s a 1099 contractor for a business that she doesn’t own.

Al: Yes.

Joe: Also has, or no, she’s-

Al: She has to own it.

Joe: Well, she, she’s a 1099 employee.

Al: Yeah.  Oh, okay. Gotcha. Yeah. 1099 employee means it’s her own business, right?

Joe: Okay. And that is in a totally different field. So I’m getting cash and then I have a W2 job that has a 401(k) plan. You’re saying that I couldn’t- I would have to aggregate all retirement plans and both in that scenario?

Al: I’m saying I have a concern and check it out with someone that does this all the time.

Joe: Okay.

Al: That’s what I’m saying.

Joe: Got it. So you’re saying that in one, in the 1099 job or the 1099 business, she couldn’t set up a SEP IRA and then under the W2, she would, she could contribute into the 401(k).

Al: She, she could, I think she could probably do a SEP. Again, these rules are- these rules are complicated. I’m just, I’m just saying, what I’m very clear on is what they’re trying to avoid, which is that successful company that sets up a side business funnels profits over and then has the retirement plan in that business. Now, the fact that it’s maybe if they’re unrelated, right? Maybe they’re, I don’t know. I just would want someone to check it out that does this every day.

Joe: So what, what, what’s, what’s getting your little spidey senses going is that she started multi-companies.

Al: Do you remember- do you remember the attorney in San Diego that did, that recommended this and got in trouble?

Joe: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Al: That’s, that’s what’s going off in my head.

Joe: We won’t mention any names.

Al: No. No.

Joe: Okay. Sounds good. “Pam and I are both 67. I’m 95% retired clinical social worker. Pam is still 200%.  We share a local beer on Friday nights when we go to our favorite Thai restaurant in Davis, California.”

Al: There you go.

Joe: We just opened an office in Davis, California.

Al: Sure did.

Joe: “Drive a  2003 Honda Insight. The original hybrid. A two-seater-” Oh boy. “-aerodynamic wonder.”

Andi: Well done.

Joe: Killed it. It was like I’m- never mind, okay, “-with $200,000 on it. Pam drives-“

Andi: 200,000 miles.

Joe: What did I say?

Andi/Al: Dollars.

Joe: Oh, God. 200,000 miles on it. “-Pam drives a 2022 Kia Niro.”

Al: Niro.

Joe: “Niro. We have a ½-“

Andi:  Pekingese.

Joe: “-Pekingese, guard dog, rough coated-“

Andi: Dachshund terrier mix.

Joe: “- And a retired cat.”  I got that one. Well, congratulations that you are on the 5% and your wife is still going at 200%. That’s it for us. We’re done. Andi, Thank you very much for another wonderful job.

Andi: Thank you.

Joe: Big Al, what you come back next week to the real-

Al: Yeah. Come back. Come back next week. I’ll be in office on Wednesday.

Joe: Yeah, we got a board meeting, so you better be here.

Al: I will.  That’s the plan.

Joe: Got it. All right. Have a wonderful week, everyone. We’ll see you next time. Show’s called Your Money, Your Wealth®.

Andi: Southeast Wisconsin and tea that Joe likes, the word dachshund, my new title, Big Al’s rum safari, Joan Jett, and TLC in the Derails, so stick around. Y’know, now that Google Podcasts has ceased to exist in the US, it’s taken a chunk of our listeners with it! Especially now, we are grateful to you for helping us bring them back to the YMYW barstools. Remind your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues about the show, share our episodes on your social media, and leave your honest reviews and ratings for Your Money, Your Wealth in Apple Podcasts, Amazon, Audible, Castbox, Goodpods, Pandora, PlayerFM, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Podknife, and Spotify – and any other app that accepts them!

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The Derails



Pure Financial Advisors is a registered investment advisor. This show does not intend to provide personalized investment advice through this broadcast and does not represent that the securities or services discussed are suitable for any investor. Investors are advised not to rely on any information contained in the broadcast in the process of making a full and informed investment decision.

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