Walmart 401k Plan 2023 Guide

Summary:

Walmart offers a 401(k) plan to all of its employees to help them save for retirement. The Walmart 401(k) plan for employees is immediately accessible to each employee, can be transferred when an employee quits, and has a 6% dollar-for-dollar employer match that starts after one year.

Most companies, including Walmart, offer a 401(k) plan to their employees, but not all plans are created equal. Rules for access, vesting, changing jobs, and employer contributions can all vary from job to job, and it can get confusing if you aren’t sure what to look for. If you work for Walmart (or hope to someday), we will address the big questions you have about the Walmart 401k plan and help you plan for a comfortable retirement.

What is a 401(k) plan?

A 401(k) plan is a pretax retirement savings account offered to employees by the company they work for. The United States established 401(k) plans as investable assets for employees through the Revenue Act, then structured tax laws around it. Companies often have different rules for how to access the funds, when the funds become available, and how much the employer is willing to contribute to each employee’s plan.

Essentially, your company will match your 401(k) savings contributions up to a certain percentage, but you can add more or less to your fund as you see fit. People often invest in actively managed funds or target date funds that make it easy to save for retirement.

These 401(k) funds are unique in that they are not subject to traditional income taxes, so they can grow quickly. Also, 401(k) plans are a great way to set your retirement savings aside so you don’t spend them prematurely. But some plans give you the option of taking out a loan or getting early withdrawal from your fund.

For a more in-depth look at how 401(k) plans work, check out SuperMoney’s Complete Guide to 401(k) Plans.

Getting started: Who gets a Walmart 401(k) plan?

Every employee is given a Walmart retirement savings plan, or 401(k) plan, immediately upon being hired and entered into the payroll system at Walmart. This means you can start contributing to your retirement fund upon receiving your first paycheck.

Employees can opt out of the plan, but this would probably be unwise. Your 401(k) savings are not taxed, so it makes sense for you to enroll in your company’s plan and let your retirement fund grow if you can.

Pro Tip

Walmart also offers employees a Roth 401(k) option. This allows you to pay federal taxes on your contributions so that you don’t have to pay taxes when you withdraw the money.

How much does Walmart match?

You can start saving immediately, but Walmart will not start matching your savings contributions until you have worked at least one year and at least 1,000 hours. At that point, Walmart matches up to 6%. You may make additional contributions to your fund, but Walmart’s employer contribution will only match up to 6% of them.

In addition, contributing to your 401(k) can reduce your taxable income, saving you money on your annual taxes.

How can I access my funds?

Walmart implements fairly lenient rules for accessing your 401(k) funds, but the COVID-19 pandemic called for even more relaxed standards. For example, Walmart has allowed its employees to take out loans from their 401(k) plans, but recently started allowing withdrawals as well. There are more details on the withdrawal process in the following sections.

When is my money available to me?

You have access to your 401(k) funds once they have vested, which varies by employer, from a couple of years all the way up to retirement. However, the Walmart 401(k) plan vests immediately, so employees have access to their funds through loans or withdrawals upon being hired. This means that if you rolled over funds from a 401(k) provided by your previous employer, you have access to those rollover contributions in your Walmart 401(k) fund.

What are the rules for accessing my money?

You have three ways to access your Walmart retirement account: through a hardship withdrawal, a loan, or upon officially retiring. A hardship withdrawal is based on your immediate financial needs, and not every company offers them. There are some eligibility requirements you must meet before being granted one, the main one being that you show a great financial need beyond your control.

Note, however, that Walmart does offer loans that you can take out of your fund at any time. The only requirement for taking out a loan is that you meet the minimum loan amount of $1,000 and do not exceed $50,000.

You can also access your retirement savings, of course, when you retire.

What’s the difference between a loan and a withdrawal?

The difference is straightforward: if you take a loan out of your funds, you have to pay it back. If you make a hardship withdrawal, you don’t. However, keep in mind that the amount you withdraw will not be replenished into your account until you add more savings.

What happens to my fund if I leave Walmart?

You have several options for what to do with your Walmart 401(k) upon leaving your job. Important to note, however, is that you may no longer contribute money to your Walmart 401(k) plan if you are not an employee.

Options for moving your fund after you quit

Your Walmart 401(k) can go with you if you cease working for Walmart, and it can do so in a few different ways. Just keep in mind that moving your 401(k) funds to a different type of account could turn those pretax dollars into a tax burden.

Roll it into a Roth IRA

Your first option is to roll over the contents of your Walmart 401(k) plan into a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is basically just a personal retirement savings account, but it gives you slightly more control over access to your money. Check out this article for more information on the rollover process.

Roll it into a new 401(k)

Another option is to move your 401(k) savings from Walmart into the 401(k) plan offered to you by your next employer. This keeps the money safe and secure, and will help keep you from spending it prematurely.

Invest in the stock market

You might choose to invest your 401(k) savings in the stock market, but this is a very risky decision. You could face early withdrawal penalties and lose any benefits of a company-sponsored plan.

Move it into a savings account

Finally, you can move your 401(k) savings into a personal savings account and use it however you want. Keep in mind, though, that this is money you set aside for retirement savings. Traditional savings accounts also tend to have low returns.

When will Walmart stop matching my savings?

Walmart’s employer match will stay in effect through your last paycheck with the company, as long as you are also making contributions.

In addition, your account in Walmart’s 401(k) program will continue to be credited with earnings or losses until you receive a total payout of your account. You can receive your total payout 30 days after you have ceased working for Walmart.

Do I have to retire to access my entire fund?

No. As mentioned above, every Walmart employee’s 401(k) plan vests immediately. You have full access to your funds the moment you are entered into payroll.

In order to retire at Walmart, you must have worked for the company for 20+ years or reach 62 years of age. But, as mentioned above, all Walmart employees can access their 401(k) funds prior to retirement.

Walmart uses Merrill Lynch as its plan administrator for its employee 401(k) program, so you can use the Merrill Lynch customer service site for answers to specific questions and further details.

Get help with your investments

If you’re ready to put those Walmart benefits to good use, use our comparison tool to find a brokerage that can help you make sense of index funds and other investment options.

Key takeaways

  • Walmart employees have immediate access to their 401(k) funds because their plans vest immediately.
  • Walmart will match 6% of your contributions to your 401(k) plan, which is on par with the average match amount for U.S. employers.
  • Walmart’s 401(k) retirement savings plan allows employees to take out loans and withdrawals, with some limitations.
  • You can decide what to do with your 401(k) savings after you stop working at Walmart, including rolling your savings over to different accounts. You can also look into some investment options and compare asset managers here. But remember, moving your savings out of a 401(k) fund could require you to pay income taxes on that money.
View Article Sources
  1. 401k plan overview – IRS.gov
  2. Financial Benefits – Walmart
  3. Vesting – IRS.gov
  4. The Complete Guide to 401k Plans – SuperMoney