By Scott Tschappat
Are you considering retiring early? With everything that healthcare workers have had to deal with this past year, we don’t blame you if you’re wondering about what it takes to retire sooner rather than later. The good news is, you’re not alone. According to one study, more than half of Americans plan to retire before the age of 65. (1)
So how can you make this dream a reality? One way is to start maximizing the retirement plan offered by your employer.
Understand Your Retirement Plan
The first step to maximizing a retirement plan is to understand how it works in your favor. As an HCA employee, you are automatically enrolled in your company’s 401(k) plan after you’ve worked there for 2 months. Upon enrollment, your contribution amount begins at 3% of your salary. Each year you work for HCA, your contributions to your 401(k) account will increase by 1% unless you opt out (which we don’t recommend).
With your HCA 401(k), you get to choose how to invest the funds in your account. You have many different options for investments, which you can choose according to your risk tolerance, your number of years away from retirement, and the level of involvement you want to have in managing the investments. (If you’re unsure, we recommend working with professional financial advisors like the team at Acute WealthCare to help you make these decisions.)
Your Employer Match & Vesting Schedule
A huge benefit to working for an HCA Healthcare facility is that your facility immediately begins matching your contributions at 100% when you’re enrolled in the plan. Their contributions are made annually in December, so you may not see the matches until the end of the year. The employer match will increase with your annual increases up to 9%, depending on your years of service.
HCA does follow a vesting schedule, so you’re not entitled to your employer matches if you leave employment with them too early. For every year of service, you become 20% vested in the matching contributions beginning with 2 years of vesting service. See the table below for more clarity. (2)
We also recommend saving extra money in a Roth account if possible, as a Roth account will likely lower your tax burden in retirement. Although you could open a Roth IRA, it’s also possible that if enough HCA employees ask for Roth 401(k) contributions, HCA may add this option to their plan. For now, HCA freezes any Roth contributions from plans they have acquired.
Our Favorite Tip To Maximize Your 401(k)
Maximizing your 401(k) can be challenging, so the absolute best tip we can offer is this: Every time you get a raise, increase your contributions by 1% OR take half of the raise amount and put that into your 401(k) plan. Keep the other half for yourself to help with cost-of-living increases. This disciplined approach can help you to max out your 401(k) on a gradual basis.
Of course, your ability to max out your 401(k) contributions are dependent on your unique situation. And if you’re interested in alternative investment options, such as real estate investing, you may not wish to completely max out your 401(k) yet. We’re here to help with any questions you have about determining what’s best for your financial situation.
At Acute WealthCare, we provide financial planning and investment management specifically for healthcare workers. We can help you understand the matching and vesting schedules for HCA employees, choose the best options for your 401(k) investments, and create a plan to help you retire early. We also provide a free risk assessment from Riskalyze, which you can access through our website. Riskalyze helps us understand how much risk you’re willing to take with the investments in your 401(k). Please schedule a 15-minute introductory phone call to get started!
Scott Tschappat is a wealth advisor at Acute WealthCare, an independent, fee-based comprehensive financial management firm with over 20 years of experience. Scott is committed to helping his healthcare worker clients create a financial plan that brings them peace, security, and dignity. Scott learned the importance of proper financial management and making a plan for the unexpected at a young age when his father passed away suddenly and he watched his mother use the life insurance money wisely to take care of their needs, both present and future. He strives to steward his clients’ money well, as if it were his own mother’s, and help them every step on the journey to their financial future.
Scott lives in Highlands Ranch, CO, with his wife, Bridget, a school counselor at All Souls Catholic School, and their two daughters, Sarah and Emily. He loves sports and has been lucky enough to coach both of his daughters’ basketball teams. In the spring and summer, you can find Scott getting his hands dirty gardening and enjoying live music at Red Rocks or another local venue. To learn more about Scott, connect with him on LinkedIn. You can also register for his latest webinar on What We Do & How We Help.