401K Late in Game prior to ER?
Here’s the situation: 43 yrs old w/ COLA’d pension that is $43K this year.
My new job offers a 401K (not something I ever though much about before) and they’ll match half my contribution up to 6% of my salary (slightly over $100K). So if I contribute $6K they add $3K. If I don’t contribute at least $6K, I therefore lose that “free” $3K by default.
BUT, if I contribute, that money is tied up until I’m 65 –or, from what I’ve read, I understand that at 55 maybe I could start withdrawing it in substantially equal payments over some time period. That idea doesn’t excite me. Why complicated the gamesmanship and doling out over time? Is it my money or isn’t it? Why the different rules for different ages? The whole system looks to me like a government scheme to penalize me if I elect to maintain maximum flexibility and options in terms of how I use my money – as if the govt is my parent, doling out my allowance.
My 2 children will both be college age in ten years – I’ll be 53. Plans are not yet firm (see, I really do like flexibility) but our general direction (wife does not work – homeschools the kids) is for me to stop working in 5 years or less and do something a little different for a while – with no need to return to work. This may strike some as an imprudent philosophy – but I figure by the time I’m 65, I’ll have less use for the money than I will in a few years when my family is still young and I (hopefully) still have health and energy and time.
So 401K late in the game prior to ER, – any thoughts from anyone whose thought this through before?