When women choose to leave the workplace in order to stay at home and raise their young children, they make certain trade-offs. For example, they usually give up the chance to earn more money in exchange for the opportunity to spend more time with their children during their formative years.
“Sacrificing this income can make it more difficult for stay-at-home moms to save for retirement - but it doesn’t make it impossible,” says David Lerner Associates Senior Vice President Christina Nash. “It’s just as important for stay-at-home moms to plan for their retirement as it is for working moms.”
Nash offers the following tips to help stay-at-home moms prepare for retirement:
* Rollover your 401(k) from your previous employer into an IRA. “If you participated in a 401(k) plan at your last job, don’t leave the money behind - or worse, cash it out,” says Nash. If you cash it out, you may be subject to early withdrawal penalties, and you’ll probably have to pay income taxes at your current ordinary income tax rate.
A better option may be to rollover the funds into an IRA. “This may provide the most flexibility and control in terms of investing the money in accordance with your long-term retirement objectives,” says Nash.
The process is simple: Inform the custodian of your former employer’s plan that you wish to move your account balance into a rollover IRA. The custodian will either transfer the money directly to your IRA (this is known as a trustee-to-trustee transfer) or issue a check to you in the amount of your account balance. If you receive a check, be sure to request that the check be made payable to the custodian of your IRA for benefit of (or FBO) your name.
* Open a spousal IRA. With this option, your husband can contribute up to $5,500 per year (or $6,500 if you’re age 50 or over) to either a traditional or Roth IRA in your name. Note that you and your husband must file a joint tax return to be eligible for a spousal IRA.
* Have your husband increase contributions to his retirement plan. Will your household budget permit increasing (or even maxing out) contributions to your husband’s retirement plan? The maximum annual contribution to a traditional or Roth IRA in 2013 is $5,500 (or $6,500 if your husband is age 50 or over), while the maximum annual contribution to a 401(k) plan in 2013 is $17,500 (or $23,000 if your husband is age 50 or over).
“Keep in mind, however, that this money technically belongs to your husband,” Nash points out. “If you divorce before retirement, you may have some rights to a portion of his retirement savings, depending on your state. But exercising those rights may be difficult.”
* Open a solo 401(k) or SEP IRA. This may be an option if you operate a home-based business or have any other type of self-employment income. Solo 401(k)s can be established as either traditional or Roth. Each of these types of retirement plans has unique potential benefits, drawbacks and annual contribution limits, so study them carefully to determine which might be best for your situation. Download the slide deck at www.slideshare.net/davidlernerassociates/how-stay-at-home-moms-can-plan-for-retirement.
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates, Inc. (DLA). This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered in connection with the purchase or sale of securities. Member FINRA & SIPC.