I am moving from a private job to a post-doc at the beginning of 2018. In my private gig, I had the opportunity to divert part of my wages into a SIMPLE IRA.

This was in addition to the Roth that I fully fund.

However, as far as I know, the university where I start in January doesn't offer any sort of self-financed retirement plan (SIMPLE, 401(k), etc).

I am wondering what my options are. Are there mechanisms (in addition to my Roth, which I will certainly continue to fully fund) to save in a tax sheltered way?

  • 1
    Most public universities offer a 403(b) which is the government/education equivalent of a 401(k). Are you sure this particular university doesn't offer such a plan?
    – Andy
    Oct 25, 2017 at 18:03
  • Even if it does, you can probably roll the SIMPLE IRA to a traditional IRA and contribute on your own - the only thing you miss out on is any sort of match.
    – D Stanley
    Oct 25, 2017 at 18:18
  • How much will you be making as a post-doc? I know grad students make practically nothing, so a Roth IRA, or even not chasing a tax advantage can make sense when you're in a relatively low tax bracket. Oct 26, 2017 at 1:24

1 Answer 1


Yes. Two years after your first contribution to the SIMPLE IRA, you can roll it to a traditional IRA. You can still contribute "pre-tax", but the mechanism will be slightly different, since with an employer plan the contribution was automatically deducted from your paycheck. With an individual plan, you make the contributions yourself and then get a tax deduction when you file. Since contributions to traditional and Roth IRAs combined are capped at $5,500 if you're under 50, some sort of employer-sponsored plan might be better from a contribution standpoint.

If your institution offers some sort of plan other than a 401(k), you might still want to roll to a traditional IRA, since you will have much more flexibility in the investments you choose. On the flip side, if that thought is overwhelming, having a smaller set of options might be better for your peace of mind.

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