When you’re between jobs—whether due to a layoff or a decision to leave—you may have special financial challenges to consider. Your income is likely less than it was while you were working, but that doesn’t have to mean derailing your retirement goals or foregoing insurance. There are some strategies that can help you keep your retirement savings and insurance coverage working for you, even when you’re not.
When you leave a job (voluntarily or otherwise), you typically have a few options for the 401(k) at your old employer. If the employer allows it, you can leave the funds where they are. Another option is to roll over your 401(k) into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) so that the money continues working for you in a tax-deferred manner. Liquidating your 401(k) is an option but there may be tax implications and early distribution penalties. It is best to consult your tax professional before making any distribution decisions.
To continue contributing to an IRA or 401(k), you need earned income, such as a salary or profits from a small business. Unemployment benefits are not considered earned income by the IRS, so if that’s your only source of income, you would have to temporarily pause contributions to your IRA or 401(k). However, if your spouse has earned income, he or she could potentially bump up retirement contributions to compensate. If you re-enter the job market, you could resume contributions to your own retirement account. If you’re 50 or older, you can also make catch-up contributions to a 401(k).
Depending on the size of the company, employees who are laid off or leave a job voluntarily often have the right to continue their health care coverage for a specified period of time through COBRA. However, health insurance doesn’t cover everything, especially in the case of an accident or serious illness, so a supplemental health insurance policy could help fill coverage gaps such as co-pays, deductibles and non-medical care (transportation to treatment, for instance). Knowing your medical costs would be covered can help provide peace of mind during an uncertain time. Premiums for supplemental health insurance can start as low as $20 per month.
Life insurance is another area to consider. If you had a policy through your previous employer, you may want to consider buying an individual policy to ensure that your family would be able to cover their daily expenses if the unthinkable happened. A permanent life insurance policy can accumulate cash value over time so that you might be able to take a loan or withdrawal if needed.
Want to know more about your retirement and insurance options? Contact an Allstate personal financial representative to discuss your needs.