My DW and I have been married 7 mos. She's 41, I'm 38. Before marrying a Fool, she's always been on shakey financial ground with CC debt, etc., which I paid off with a HELOC on my co-op after our nuptials. Thing is, as expected, she has virtually no retirement savings-- just $6K in an old 401k (soon to be rollover IRA), vs. my retirement savings, about $65K. Should we be trying to play catch-up with her IRA and devote our efforts to building it up? Or should we just let it be and rely on my retirement money and devote our $$$ to my accounts?We're both self-employed right now, so employer contributions, etc. are not an option for either of us.
Should we be trying to play catch-up with her IRA and devote our efforts to building it up? Or should we just let it be and rely on my retirement money and devote our $$$ to my accounts?You should be contributing to both. Actually, do you have a choice? Doesn't she have to put her earnings in her account, and your earnings in yours? Although if you can live off your salary (after your contributions) she could maybe put more into hers.We're both self-employed right now, so employer contributions, etc. are not an option for either of us. Have you looked into any of the special retirement options for self-employed? DH is self-employed, and has a SEP IRA. I'm not entirely sure how it works, I just know he can contribute a certain percentage of his earned income (so he reports *everything*--just to maximize his contributions!) and I think (not sure on this, but he also has an account so I'll point out this post to him) he might even be able to "match" his contributions with his company's earnings (he's incorporated, although he's also the sole employee). www.vanguard.com has a lot of info on all this. If I weren't so lazy, I'd give you the link, but I think it's pretty easy to find.Ellen
she's always been on shakey financial ground with CC debt, etc., which I paid off with a HELOC on my co-op after our nuptials. I'm sure you know this, and it's probably just the way you worded it, but you did not pay off her credit card debt. You simply moved her unsecured debt over to secured debt on your co-op. You still owe the money except to a different place.We're both self-employed right now, so employer contributions, etc. are not an option for either of us. As far as the IRA question, being self-employed gives you many more choices and the ability to put away much higher amounts into an IRA. You don't have an outside employer making contributions, but you can make your own matching contributions as the employer. I have my DH in a Keough, and max out his contributions every year, which dwarf what I can put into a 401k at work even though I make several times the salary that he does.For explaining self-employed IRA options, I have found the Fidelity website to be the best for comparison purposes. You don't have to set up the IRA there, but I think they give the best information for deciding on what to do.
https://flagship5.vanguard.com/VGApp/hnw/content/AccountServ/SBS/ATSSBSOVContent.jspThis page at Vanguard will also walk you through the various retirement plans available to the self-employed. I ended up going with a SEP IRA. That way, for every $100 that I pay myself, the business can contribute $25 to the SEP. The contributions are deducted as business expenses. Keep in mind that you must offer the plan to employees who have been with you for three years out of the last five, I think. So if your business profits $30,000, you can pay yourself a mere $24,000 and then send the remaining $6,000 (which amounts to 25% of what you were paid) to the SEP. Then you can still contribute $4000 to your Roth this year. That's a total of $10,000 you can contribute to IRAs. If you don't have a lot of assets and don't want to pay lots of fees, Vanguard has some of the lowest fees in the business. They also have some funds called "Target Retirement" funds that are actually combinations of other funds. Each Target fund has a certain allocation of US stocks vs International stocks vs bonds, so you can invest in as little as one fund and still have decent diversification. Other fund families such as Fidelity offer the same type of product, I believe.
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