Ep 52: Should CRNAs Contribute to Roth or Pre-Tax or Both?

As much as you love the work you do, eventually you’ll want to step away and enjoy time to yourself in retirement. But what’s the best way to invest for your future? Should you contribute your pre-tax money into a traditional IRA or is Roth a better option? Let’s discuss all the options available to you and what factors will determine the best route to retirement.

Click the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

When you finish school and move into the working world, people tell you to start putting your money into a retirement account, which is great advice, but where do you start?

As a CRNA, you put a lot of energy into your career. Either you don’t have the time or don’t have acumen to dive into all of the investment options offered by your employer or available to you as a 1099 worker. You’ve probably heard about a Roth IRA but how is that different than a traditional IRA? Where should your money be going?

That’s what we want to dive into today on the Beyond the Mask Podcast. Sharon asked Jeremy to take some time to explain these investment options to here and other CRNAs. As a Certified Financial Planner, Jeremy works with CRNAs all the time to build retirement plans and the goal today is to inform and educate so you’ll have the best chance to succeed in retirement.

The first thing we want to establish is what options you have. What are the Roth vs Pre-Tax options and how are they different in an IRA vs a 401k?

[1:52] – Today we’re talking whether CRNAs should be contributing to a Roth or a pre-tax retirement account. Or both?

[2:43] – There are two sides to remember to this. First you have Roth IRA vs Traditional (or pre-tax) IRA. And now you have Roth 401k/403b vs Traditional 401k/403b

[3:43] – There’s no blanket answer. It’s different for everyone.

Once you understand the differences, it’s time to decide which route you want to take. This isn’t the same answer for each person because it depends on your situation and your goals. The question you want to answer, however, is do you feel it’s better to pay your taxes now or delay those payments until you retire? Many people feel taxes are only going up but there might be value in splitting up your investments, which Jeremy will explain on this show.

[4:40] – Let’s start with the Roth IRA. Here’s what you need to know.

[6:17] – The big debate is pay taxes now or pay them later. Here’s what you should consider.

[8:20] – There’s an opportunity cost for utilizing the Roth. What if you took that extra pre-tax money and invested that elsewhere?

[10:23] – What are some other reasons we might potentially choose the Roth?

[12:25] – If we know you need to control your taxable income, Roth can be utilized.

[14:19] – Planning helps you determine what percentage of your money to put into each account?

The common conversation Jeremy has with clients is how to get the most saved. If you think about how much your allowed to save each year, you’ll see that the system doesn’t do CRNAs any favors. Working with an advisor will give you the best chance to explore every possibility and there are workarounds to the limits already in place.

[15:36] – Why the retirement system is skewed against high-income earners like CRNAs.   

[17:02] – How can you save more than the $19,000 limit?

[18:55] – Jeremy explains backdoor contributions.

[21:22] – Here’s the caveat to the backdoor though.

Some other considerations to make when talking Roth vs pre-tax is how 1099 gigs are different. Many CRNAs take 1099 work so this is good to know. And don’t forget about healthcare. We’ll explain how that affects things.

[22:55] – Let’s talk about another option for CRNAs that have 1099 gigs.

[25:18] – Can you contribute to both Roth and pre-tax within the same employer retirement account?

[26:59] – How healthcare can impact your decision.

Ultimately, we want this episode to benefit you. Hopefully you’ve learned something along the way and feel more comfortable looking into your retirement accounts and determining a strategy that works for you. As always, Jeremy is available to help you build this plan and give you the confidence that you’re on the path to retirement.

[29:17] – Jeremy’s goal is to help the CRNA community be prepared.

[30:47] – Everyone should have a financial check-up every year.

[32:02] – Final thoughts on the topic.

Thanks for checking out another episode of Beyond the Mask. Please subscribe and join us next week for another show.


“Which should you do? It depends. There is no answer across the board right for everyone. Everyone’s situation is different which is why you need to be looking at your situation and figuring out which way is best for me.”

-Jeremy Stanley, Certified Financial Planner

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