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retirement

Fund your 401(k) or IRA first?

Retirement » Fund Your 401(k) Or IRA First?

Are you (or your spouse) not working?
Are you (or your spouse) not working?

If you want to build retirement savings for a nonworking spouse, you have a couple of options.

"If you have a spouse who has no earned income, you are probably saving for their retirement in addition to yours," says Bogosian. And in that case, "a 401(k)'s higher saving limits provide greater opportunity."

But a nonemployed spouse can also earmark personal money for retirement in a spousal IRA, says Altfest.

The working spouse must have enough income to cover the spousal IRA contribution. However, if the working spouse is covered by an employer retirement plan, the deduction may be limited depending on income and filing status, according to IRS Publication 590.

A spousal IRA allows an unemployed spouse to build an independent retirement account under his or her own name using the family's earned income.

And, says Altfest, "I think it's really a great thing."

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