Banking & Savings, Insights

Deferred Compensation Vs 401k

flik eco finance personal deferred compensation vs defined benefit 1

Making the decision between a deferred compensation plan and a 401k can be difficult. Both options have their own advantages and disadvantages, and it can be hard to decide which is the best option for you.

In this personal finance guide, we will compare deferred compensation plans and 401ks, looking into the benefits of each option. We will help you decide which plan is right for you so that you can make the most out of your money!

What is a Deferred Compensation?

Deferred compensation is a type of retirement plan where an employee can elect to have a portion of their salary paid out to them at a later date, usually after they retire. This allows employees to defer taxes on this income until they receive it, which can result in significant tax savings.

What is a 401k?

A 401k is a retirement savings account that allows you to save money for your future. The money in your 401k can be invested in a variety of investments, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Your employer may also offer a matching contribution to your 401k, which can help you save even more for your retirement.

What is The Difference Between Deferred Compensation and a 401k?

The main difference between deferred compensation and a 401k is that deferred compensation plans are not subject to the same government regulations as 401k plans. This means that deferred compensation plans may have higher fees and less protections for employees.

Deferred compensation plans can be a good option for high-earning employees who want to save on taxes. However, these plans come with some risks. Employees may lose their deferred compensation if their employer goes bankrupt or if the company changes its deferred compensation plan.

401k plans are a good option for employees who want to save for retirement. These plans have lower fees and more protections than deferred compensation plans. Employees may also be able to take a loan from their 401k account if they need money in an emergency.

What Are The Different Types of Deferred Compensation?

There are two main types of deferred compensation: salary deferrals and bonuses.

Salary Deferrals

Salary deferrals are when you agree to have a portion of your future salary paid out later on, usually at retirement.


Bonuses are typically given in the form of stock options or other equity-based compensation and can be paid out over a set period of time or all at once.

What Are The Different Types of 401k?

There are two types of 401k: Traditional and Roth.

Traditional 401k

With a Traditional 401k, you contribute pre-tax dollars to your account. This means that your contributions lower your taxable income for the year. When you retire and start withdrawing money from your account, those withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income.

Roth 401k

With a Roth 401k, you contribute after-tax dollars to your account. This means that you don't get a tax break on your contributions in the year you make them. However, when you retire and start withdrawing money from your account, those withdrawals are not taxed.

What Are The Advantages of a Deferred Compensation?

There are a few advantages of having deferred compensation.

The first advantage is that you can have your taxes deferred on the money that you contribute to the account. This means that you will not have to pay taxes on the money until you withdraw it from the account.

Another advantage is that you can usually invest the money in the account and let it grow tax-deferred. This can help you build up a larger nest egg for retirement.

What Are The Advantages of a 401k?

There are a few advantages of having a 401k, including the following:

  • The ability to have your employer match your contributions. This is essentially free money that you would otherwise not have access to.
  • You can contribute pre-tax income, which lowers your overall taxable income for the year.
  • The money in your 401k grows tax-deferred, meaning you don’t have to pay taxes on it until you withdraw the funds.

What Are The Disadvantages of Deferred Compensation?

There are a few disadvantages to deferred compensation that you should keep in mind.

First, your employer may not always be able to make the contributions they promised. If your company runs into financial trouble, it may reduce or eliminate its contributions to your account.

Second, you may not be able to access your money as early as you want. With a 401k, you can typically start taking withdrawals at age 59 ½. However, with deferred compensation, you may have to wait until you reach retirement age to access your money.

Finally, your deferred compensation account is not protected from creditors in the event of bankruptcy. This means that if you declare bankruptcy, your creditors could potentially seize the money in your account.

What Are The Disadvantages of 401k?

The biggest disadvantage of a 401k is that you are limited in how much you can contribute each year. For 2022, the contribution limit is $19,000 for those under age 50. If you're 50 or older, you can contribute an extra $6000, for a total of $25,000. This may not be enough to fully fund your retirement, especially if you're starting late.

Another disadvantage of 401k is that they are subject to the whims of the stock market. If the stock market crashes, so do your 401k. This can be a major setback if you're close to retirement and were counting on that money to cover your living expenses.

Finally, 401k plans are not very flexible. You can't withdraw money from them until you reach retirement age (59 ½) without paying a hefty penalty. This means that if you have an emergency and need access to cash, your 401k is not going to help you out.

So, Which One Should You Use?

Well, it depends on your situation. If you are already retired and drawing from a 401k, then a deferred compensation plan may not make sense for you. However, if you are still working and have the ability to contribute to both types of plans, then it really comes down to personal preference.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, so it's important to do your research and make the decision that is right for you. If you have any questions, be sure to speak with a financial advisor. They will be able to help you understand all of your options and make the best decision for your unique situation.

What Are Some Alternatives to Using a Deferred Compensation or a 401k?

There are a few alternatives to using deferred compensation or a 401k.

One is to use an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Another is to use a Roth IRA. Finally, you could also choose to invest in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds on your own. Each of these has its own set of pros and cons that you'll need to consider before making a decision.

What Are Some Tips For Using a Deferred Compensation?

There are a few key things to keep in mind when using deferred compensation as part of your financial planning.

First, it's important to remember that deferred compensation is not an investment, but rather a way to save for retirement. As such, you shouldn't expect to see any immediate return on your contributions.

Second, since deferred compensation is subject to income taxes, it's important to consider how much you'll owe in taxes when you eventually withdraw the money.

Finally, it's also important to remember that deferred compensation is generally only available to employees of large companies. If you work for a small business or are self-employed, you likely won't be able to take advantage of this type of retirement savings.

What Are Some Tips For Using a 401k?

If you're already contributing to a 401k, congratulations! You're ahead of the game. But there are always ways to optimize your contributions and get the most out of your retirement savings. Here are a few tips:

First, make sure you're taking advantage of any employer matching contributions. This is free money that can really add up over time, so you don't want to leave it on the table.

Second, try to contribute as much as you can afford each month. The sooner you start saving, the better off you'll be in retirement.

Finally, make sure you're diversified. This means investing in a variety of different assets so that your portfolio is less susceptible to market fluctuations.


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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