What's the Deal: 401K alternatives to save for retirement

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Financial experts will tell you that the best way to save for retirement is your 401K. But for millions of Americans, that's not an option.

But there is help for anyone whose employer doesn't offer one.

36-year-old Simone Gardine-Estriplet is ready to start thinking long-term.

"I'm getting older and I have two small boys. I think it's necessary to start making some plans," she said.

Simone works full time as a teacher, but her job does not provide a 401K savings plan, so ABC News brought in an expert to explore her retirement planning options - starting with one that surprised her.

"So you work in the public school system? If you work for the covernment, federal or state government, they have different retirement planning options for their employees. Essentially they do pretty much the same thing that a 401K plan does," said Certified Financial Planner, Avani Ramnani.

If you qualify for government options like 457 and 403B plans, they allow the same tax-deferred max contribution as a traditional 401K - $18,000 annually.

Another popular option is IRAs. With a maximum contribution of $5,500 a year, investors have 2 options. First, traditional IRA where contributions are tax deductible and withdrawals are taxed, or a Roth IRA with no tax breaks for contributions, but growth and withdrawals are tax free.

Experts also suggest, if possible, earmark additional retirement funds in a normal brokerage account

"Put that money to work, take a little bit of risk - don't be convervative and go for it," said Avani.

And experts say when you do open that IRA or ROTH IRA, just know that your bank may not be giving you the best deal. Always ask about fees and any potential sign-up bonuses.
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