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Consumer Watch: What to do with a 401(k) after leaving a job

What to do with a 401(k) after leaving your job (FILE).

Oklahoma is hanging out at number 43 on the list of best and worst states to retire according to personal finance site Bankrate.

The truth is that retirement won't be any good anywhere, unless you've been saving for it. Whether you've been working hard on saving for your retirement using a 401(k) or just doing what you can, there are different moves you can make if you ever leave that job for something different.

As you are getting ready for your next career adventure with a new company, or preparing for setting off to do business on your own, don't just pack up and leave, remember your 401(k).

“A lot of folks like the idea of just leaving it there on auto pilot, but some providers will actually kick you out if you are under a certain threshold, so this is really a great opportunity to take your money and explore your other options,” says Kellyanne Smith, personal finance contributor at The Penny Hoarder

She says there are no major benefits to keeping that 401(k) with your former employer, but that there is potential in 401(k) rollovers if available.

“So, if you go and find an employer who maybe offers this, it can be beneficial if the fees are low ,and if they offer a good percentage match, and the best thing about rollovers is that they don't count as contributions, so you are not going to max out your account right off the bat,” says Smith.

Other options are to open an IRA or a Roth IRA. These are not employee back so Smith say the fees tend to be low for these.

Financial specialists will tell you the one thing you should not do is cash that retirement account.

“You are going to be taxed on that money like it is income, so when tax season rolls around you are going to have a pretty big bill,” says Smith.

You will also get a tax penalty -- so that is an extra chunk of money you will lose.

If you are currently at a company that offers you a 401(k), you may be able to get help on making your decision by contacting who ever manages your retirement accounts.

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