Banking & Savings, Insights

403(b): Benefits, Fees & Everything You Need to Know

flik eco finance personal 403b

If you're looking for a retirement plan that offers a lot of benefits, the 403(b) is a great option to consider. This type of plan has been around since 1958 and has become one of the most popular retirement savings vehicles in the United States.

In this article, we will discuss the basics of 403(b) plans, including their fees and investment options. We'll also help you determine if this type of plan is right for you!

What is a 403(b)?

A 403(b) is a retirement savings plan offered by public schools and non-profit organizations. It's similar to a 401(k), but there are some key differences.

How Does a 403(b) Work?

A 403(b) is a retirement savings plan that is available to employees of certain tax-exempt organizations and public school systems. Employees can contribute to a 403(b) on a pre-tax basis, which reduces their taxable income for the year. The funds in a 403(b) grow tax-deferred until they are withdrawn, at which point they are subject to income tax.

How to Get a 403(b)

The first step to getting a 403(b) is to find an employer that offers this type of retirement plan. Many public schools, hospitals, and some non-profit organizations offer 403(b) plans. If your employer does not offer a 403(b), you may still be able to open one on your own.

Once you have found an employer that offers a 403(b), the next step is to sign up for the plan. This can usually be done through your employer’s human resources department. If you are self-employed, you will need to find a financial institution that offers 403(b) plans.

Once you are signed up for a 403(b) plan, you will need to make contributions to the account. The amount that you can contribute depends on a few factors, such as your age and income. However, the maximum contribution for 2019 is $19,000.

Once you have started making contributions to your 403(b), you will need to decide how you want your money to be invested. There are a few different options available, such as mutual funds and annuities.

You can also choose to have your money automatically invested in a target date fund, which will invest your money based on when you plan to retire.

The last step is to start making withdrawals from your account once you reach retirement age. You can start taking withdrawals as early as age 59 ½, but you will be subject to a penalty if you withdraw money before age 65.

If you follow these steps, you should have no problem getting started with a 403(b) plan.

What Are The Different Types of 403(b)s?

There are two main types of 403(b)s: annuity contracts and custodial accounts.

Annuity Contracts

Annuity contracts are insurance products that are offered by life insurance companies. They usually have high fees and commissions, but they may offer some features that other types of 403(b)s don't have.

Custodial Accounts

Custodial accounts are investment accounts that are held by a bank or brokerage firm. They typically have lower fees than annuity contracts, but they don't offer the same features.

What Are The Benefits of a 403(b)?

There are a few key benefits that come with investing in a 403(b). For starters, your contributions are made on a pretax basis. This means that you can deduct your contributions from your income taxes, which can result in some significant savings.

Another benefit of a 403(b) is that the money grows tax-deferred. This means that you won't have to pay taxes on any of the investment gains until you withdraw the money from the account.

Finally, many employers offer matching contributions for 403(b) accounts. This is an excellent benefit that can help you boost your savings significantly.

Overall, a 403(b) can be a great way to save for retirement. However, it's important to understand the fees and expenses associated with this type of account before you invest.

What Are The Disadvantages of a 403(b)?

There are a few potential downsides to consider before signing up for a 403(b). First, there may be contribution limits in place. This means you could potentially miss out on some tax breaks if you don’t max out your contributions each year.

Another downside is that some employers require employees to start contributing to the plan before they’re eligible for any employer contributions. This means you could end up paying fees on your contributions without getting any matching funds from your employer.

Finally, 403(b) plans may have high fees associated with them. Make sure to do your research and compare different providers to find the best deal.

Who Are The Best 403(b) Providers?

The best 403(b) providers are those who offer the lowest fees and the most features. Here are some of the best:

Fidelity Investments

Fidelity has been in the business of helping people save for retirement for over 70 years. They offer a wide range of investment options, including both traditional and Roth 403(b)s. fees are very reasonable, and they have a great reputation for customer service.


TIAA-CREF is one of the largest providers of retirement services in the world. They offer both traditional and Roth 403(b)s, and their fees are very competitive. They also have a wide range of investment options, and their customer service is excellent.


Vanguard is one of the largest investment companies in the world, and they offer a wide range of investment options. Their fees are very low, and they have a great reputation for customer service. They also offer both traditional and Roth 403(b)s.

These are just a few of the best 403(b) providers. There are many others out there, so be sure to shop around and find the one that best meets your needs.

What Commissions and Management Fees Come With 403(b)s?

Commissions are the fees that a financial professional charges for buying and selling investments on your behalf. These fees can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per transaction. Management fees are the ongoing charges that come with owning an investment, and these can range from 0.25% to over two percent of your account balance per year.

What Is The Minimum Amount Required to Open a 403(b)?

The minimum amount required to open a 403(b) account is usually $50. However, some employers will require a higher amount, so it's best to check with your employer first.

What Are The Eligibility Requirements for a 403(b)?

To be eligible for a 403(b), you must work for a qualifying employer. This includes most public schools and nonprofit organizations. You must also be an employee of one of these organizations, not an independent contractor.

If you are eligible for a 403(b), you can start contributing to it as soon as you're hired. There's no waiting period. You can contribute up to $19,500 per year ($26,000 if you're 50 or older).

How Much Can You Contribute to a 403(b)?

The contribution limit for a 403(b) is the same as a 401(k). For 2022, the contribution limit is $19,500. If you're over the age of 50, you can contribute an additional $6000, for a total contribution limit of $25,500.

What is The 403(b) Contribution Deadline?

The 403(b) contribution deadline is the date by which you must have contributed the maximum amount allowed to your 403(b) plan in order to receive the full tax benefits. This deadline is usually December 31st.

For example, if you're eligible to contribute $18,000 to your 403(b) in 2018, you must do so by December 31st in order to receive the full tax deduction.

What Are Some Alternatives to a 403(b)?

There are a few alternatives to a 403(b) that you can consider.


One option is a 401(k). A 401(k) is similar to a 403(b), but it is offered by an employer.

457 Plan

Another option is a 457 plan. A 457 plan is offered by state and local governments, and allows employees to save for retirement on a tax-deferred basis.

Roth IRA

Finally, you could consider opening a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that is funded with after-tax dollars. Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax-deductible, but withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.

How Does a 403(b) Compare to a 401k?

A 403(b) is very similar to a 401k in that it's a retirement savings account offered by employers. The main difference is that 403(b)s are offered to employees of public schools and non-profit organizations, while 401ks are typically offered to for-profit businesses. Both types of accounts offer tax benefits and allow employees to contribute a portion of their paycheck on a pre-tax basis.

However, there are some key differences between 403(b)s and 401ks that you should be aware of. For starters, the contribution limits for 403(b)s are much higher than those for 401ks. In 2019, employees can contribute up to $19,000 to a 403(b) account, compared to just $18,500 for a 401k.

Another difference is that employer contribution are not mandatory in a 403(b) plan. This means that your employer may choose to contribute nothing to your account, even if you're contributing the maximum amount each year. In contrast, most 401k plans require employers to match a certain percentage of employee contributions.

Finally, the investment options in a 403(b) plan are often more limited than those in a 401k. This is because 403(b) plans are typically administered by insurance companies, which offer a limited selection of mutual funds and annuities.

What Is The Difference Between a Traditional IRA & a 403(b)?

The most significant difference between a traditional IRA and a 403(b) is that the latter is only available to employees of certain tax-exempt organizations or those employed by state or local government agencies.

For everyone else, the two accounts are pretty similar. Both allow you to save for retirement on a pre-tax basis, which can lower your taxable income in the current year. And both types of accounts come with the same contribution limits: $19,500 for 2020 ($26,000 if you're 50 or older).

The other key difference between these two types of accounts is how they're taxed in retirement. With a traditional IRA, you'll pay taxes on your withdrawals at your marginal tax rate. With a 403(b), your withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.

When Can You Withdraw Money From a 403(b)?

The ability to withdraw money from a 403(b) depends on the type of account. If you have a traditional 403(b), you can start taking distributions at age 59½. However, if you have a Roth 403(b), you can start taking distributions at any age, provided that the account has been open for at least five years.

When Should You Open a 403(b)?

Ideally, you should open a 403(b) as early as possible. The sooner you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. However, life doesn’t always work out that way. If you didn’t open a 403(b) in your 20s, don’t worry – it’s never too late to start saving.

Is It Easy to Switch to a 403(b)?

The good news is that it's usually easy to switch to a 403(b). If you're currently employed, your employer may already offer a 403(b) plan. If not, you may be able to roll over funds from another retirement account, such as a 401(k) or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

Can You Lose Money With a 403(b)?

Yes, it is possible to lose money with a 403(b). However, this is typically only the case if you make poor investment choices or experience extreme market conditions. Overall, a 403(b) can be a great way to save for retirement while also enjoying some tax benefits.

How Much Should You Contribute to a 403(b)?

The recommended contribution limit for 403(b) is $19,500 per year. However, if you're over the age of 50, you can contribute an additional $6000 per year. And if you're self-employed, you can contribute up to 25% of your net earnings. So how much should you contribute to a 403(b)?

The answer to that question depends on a few factors. First, you need to consider your financial goals. If you're trying to save for retirement, you'll want to contribute as much as possible. But if you're just trying to save for a rainy day fund, you can probably get by with contributing less.

Second, you need to consider your income. If you make a lot of money, you can afford to contribute more to a 403(b) than someone who doesn't make as much money. And if you have a high income, you may be able to get by with contributing less to other retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA.

Third, you need to consider your tax situation. If you're in a high tax bracket, you may want to contribute more to a 403(b) because the money you contribute is deducted from your taxable income. But if you're in a lower tax bracket, you may want to contribute less because the deductions aren't as valuable.

Finally, you need to consider your company's match. If your company offers a 401(k) match, you should definitely contribute enough to get the full match. But if your company doesn't offer a match, you may want to contribute less to a 403(b).

Does a 403(b) Earn Interest?

The answer is yes, your 403(b) can earn interest. The earnings on your 403(b) are tax-deferred, which means you won’t have to pay taxes on them until you withdraw the money from your account.

Do You Pay Taxes On a 403(b)?

You may be wondering if you have to pay taxes on your 403(b) account. The answer is yes, you do have to pay taxes on your 403(b). However, the taxes are not due until you withdraw the money from your account. When you do withdraw the money, you will be subject to income tax and, if you are under the age of 59 ½, you may also be subject to a ten percent early withdrawal penalty.

The good news is that you can avoid paying taxes on your 403(b) account by rolling it over into another retirement account, such as a 401(k) or an IRA. Rolling over your 403(b) into another retirement account will allow you to keep your money invested and grow tax-deferred.

What is a 403(b) IRA Rollover?

A 403(b) IRA rollover is when you roll over your 403(b) account into an IRA. This can be done by transferring the money from your 403(b) into a self-directed IRA or by opening a new IRA and having the money transferred from your 403(b).


About Jermaine Hagan (The Plantsman)

Jermaine Hagan, also known as The Plantsman is the Founder of Flik Eco. Jermaine is the perfect hybrid of personal finance expert and nemophilist. On a mission to make personal finance simple and accessible, Jermaine uses his inside knowledge to help the average Joe, Kwame or Sarah to improve their lives. Before founding Flik Eco, Jermaine managed teams across several large financial companies, including Equifax, Admiral Plc, New Wave Capital & HSBC. He has been featured in several large publications including BBC, The Guardian & The Times.

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