For a lot of individuals, the phrase “401k” is equivalent to retirement planning and may even be the only form of preparation they have done. These plans are frequently offered by employers as part of a benefits package and if you have one, the majority of your retirement savings are probably being deposited into this account. Since it can have such a significant impact on your financial future, it is crucial to have a complete understanding of how these plans function.

So what do Qualified Plans do exactly? 

Qualified Plans are retirement savings accounts that defer taxes, meaning taxes on the contributions made to the account are not paid immediately. However, this does not mean that the taxes are eliminated; they are only delayed until the funds are withdrawn. The amount of taxes paid on the withdrawn funds depends on the individual’s tax bracket at the time of withdrawal. If the individual is in a higher tax bracket when they withdraw the funds, they will receive less money from the account, and if they are in a lower tax bracket, they will receive more. It is important to make an informed decision about when to withdraw funds to maximize the benefits of the account.


The Check Story 

The concept of Qualified Plans may seem simple – they defer taxes and the tax calculation to a later date. However, it is important to understand that these plans do not save you taxes, but rather postpone them. The amount of taxes you will pay in the future depends on your tax bracket at the time of withdrawal. It is crucial to make an informed decision about whether a Qualified Plan is the best option for you.


To put it in perspective, imagine someone handed you a check for $10,000 but refused to tell you the interest rate or when they expect payment. You wouldn’t cash that check, but that’s essentially what you’re doing with a Qualified Plan.


Understanding the rules of the game is fundamental to making informed decisions about your finances. Just like tic-tac-toe, the game of financial planning has simple rules, but it takes a winning strategy to succeed. As a financial advisor, my role is to help clients develop that winning strategy by understanding the rules and making informed decisions.