Video Post: Basics of Comparing Investing in a Roth 401k vs. a Traditional 401k

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I just made my first video blog post which covers part of choosing between a Traditional and a Roth-type of retirement account, be it IRA, 401(k), or 403(b). I’ve covered this topic before, but I wanted to start out with something that I get asked often and also can benefit from the additional information available from a video format.

There are a couple of reasons why I decided to do this:

  1. No Credit Needed made his own first video about the Envelope System of budgeting. I thought it was a good way to explain the concept.
  2. At the same time, my father said that my blog should be more interactive (read: it was dull). When your own father says your blog isn’t cool enough, you know you have to do something!

I don’t think my servers can handle the bandwidth, so I had to throw it up on YouTube. Hopefully it’s not too blurry. It’s certainly a lot more work making a video than typing, so please let me know what you think.

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  1. Pretty cool! Next time, however, you might want to sit/stand a little farther away from the microphone to cut out the breathing noise/clipping. 🙂

    – h.

  2. Thanks, I don’t know if it was my setup or not, but the first time around I could barely hear myself in the video. I guess this time I went too close.

    I’ve also got a really dinky microphone 🙂

  3. To be honest, I don’t like the format…it takes too long. I like to be able to skim and skip; pulling your nuggets of wisdom out of your posts quickly. The video, to me, was too slow and thus MORE boring that your normal posts (which are not boring).

    The breathing was also a distraction, for me.

    Good idea to change it up, I think videos could be good…

    Hope that is helpful feedback.

  4. Joseph Sangl says

    Good job! The topic/information is good. Each video will get better as you work out the technology bugs. Beware – technology is a big deep dark hole that eats money – perhaps interactive flash presentations would be an economical option for you.

  5. I don’t like videos because it is impossible to watch from work because the company I work for blocks all video formats and it isn’t easily searchable as text is.

  6. I appreciate the effort to keep it fresh, but like others have stated, I found the delivery too slow. On paper I can get through the information far faster and skip-over sections if and as necessary. Again, awesome site and good job.

  7. You have a great blog, which is updated all the time with good info.
    As I read it at work in the couple of minutes I can spend for the task, I’d miss the good info which might be contained in a video format.
    So – stick to your strengths (finding out good quality content and disseminating the info for the rest of us) and your website will keep its audience.
    Occasional video (once a month?) might be OK as it can be checked on the weekend from home, but no need to go wild about it.
    Flash or Captivate or Camtasia type of slideshow with sound might be all that is needed for a complex topic you are presenting.
    Keep up the good work!

  8. If decide to continue with videos, I’d recommend a Logitech USB headset. I’ve used one for a speech therapy application for some time, and I’ve been quite happy with the sound quality. I don’t remember the exact model I ordered, probably a 200 or 300 which the don’t make any more, but I do remember it cost about $40.

    I’ve not tried the newer models, but you might consider a Logitech Premium USB Headset 350, like this one:

  9. VicfromATL says

    Actually, I found the video to be really good and simple but I think same could have been delivered using charts etc. like you have done in past.

    I didn’t find the video boring though it was slow.

    It was very easy to understand and would love to see such videos.


  10. agree with some of the others…too slow and stand away from the microphone. i prefer reading or a flash presentation would be good. you sounded nervous…like you were in high school giving a demonstration to your class.

  11. Thanks for all the feedback. Lots of things to improve, this definitely won’t be a daily thing.

    It looks a ton better when I export as Flash at native resolution, but I didn’t want to risk killing the site. I may find external hosting.

  12. Check out this for a diy wind screen

  13. when doing your math, did you simply multiply your investment amounts by 10 times or did you actually do the proper math of compounding the amount for each year invested. i believe it is the same answer, but am curious on your thought process

  14. 1.0830 = 10.06, which I rounded to 10. It really doesn’t matter which way you do it.

    Starting balance x 1.08 x 1.08 x 1.08 x 1.08… gets a bit tedious 🙂

  15. Your example assumes that your contributions ($100) do not approach the annual contribution limit ($15500 for Roth 401k or $4000 for Roth IRA). If you intend to max out your contributions, and if you assume that your tax rate is the same now and at withdrawal, the Roth IRA clearly is the better choice. For example $5333 – 25% tax leaves you with $4000 with which to max out a Roth IRA. The proceeds will be tax-free at withdrawal. Using a traditional IRA, you can contribute only $4000 pre-tax, leaving $1333, which will first be taxed, and then presumably invested in a taxable account that is not even tax deferred. Hence, you will pay a tax bill every year on that portion of the money. Because of this partial loss of tax deferral, this option results in more tax being paid.

  16. I liked the text better as video is harder to follow along (such as re-reading or skimming through). Some more mundane items could be delivered via video. My 2 cents!

  17. same sentiments (not searchable, etc), but I also think there’s some potential. I would like to see more animation (than just a mouse cursor :), I’m sure you know how that can be informative 🙂

    With proper flash, I would guess the bandwidth load wouldn’t be too high (but there are tons of factors I’m unaware of). That could also add another degree of interactivity as well. I’m a graph guy, so seeing interest compounding over time graphs or your well-done long-term-market-horizon graph become interactive could be quite rad. There are certainly other visual tools that would be helpful.

    And as always, thanks for the enlightenment 🙂

  18. The presentation slides you used would be something interesting to consider posting tho. It’s a hybrid of the text blog vs the video. People can go at their own pace, it provides the visual fix for word-haters.

    I dunno if there’s any sort of “inline powerpoint” players tho..

  19. Pretty good esp. for a first video! I enjoyed it. Though yes, I’d agree about stepping from the microphone just a little. I appreciate the examples.

  20. What if you assume maxing out both:

    Assume Tax rate: 25%
    Assume Max out = 4k each account

    To contribute 4k to a Roth, you paid 1,333.33 in taxes (5333.33 * .75 = 4000 roughly) Basically saying to keep 4k after taxes you needed 5,333 to begin with.

    To contribute 4k to a Traditional you paid no taxes.

    so starting out you’re 1,333.33 behind in the Roth

    4k * 10 = 40,000 in 30 years at 8%

    Roth, you pay no taxes, you keep the 40k

    Traditional you pay 25% in taxes: that’s, 10k in taxes.

    10,000 – 1333.33 = about 8667 difference. But that’s future dollars vs. current day dollars and there maybe me some math I’m leaving out for that like inflation we’ll take a high number like 5% inflation

    1333 * 1.05^30 = 5761.15

    So with the Roth you sill come out on top even with 5% inflation:
    5761.15 – 1333.33 = 4427

    So if you contribute even amounts to both, Roth wins even with tax rates being the same because with a Roth you won’t be taxed on the gains. With a Traditional you’re taxes on gains AND principal.

    If I did something wrong, my bad.

  21. Robert – If you max out both, and you have the same tax rate in and out, the Roth always wins. The Roth allows you to shield the whole amount from taxes vs. being forced to separate it into Traditional (shielded) + Taxable (unshielded). This is regardless of inflation.

  22. Although I apprecatie the logic about how it comes out even in the end, pay taxes now and stress less later. Unfortuantely I don’t have the option of contributing to a ROTH and cannot deduct the Traditional. Hopefully in 2010, I’ll be able to convert my Traditional to a Roth through the back door (I think there are some fed rule changes coming). I don’t know what my situation will be in the future (hopefully rosey); but I’d rather get those taxes out of the way now, and just enjoy the asset in the future. Don’t you think you’ll be smiling at retirement knowing you don’t have to pay taxes on that asset! Just my thoughts – not mathematical logic, but emotional logic.

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