Stay-at-home Sally: No earnings
Even if "stay-at-home Sally" has no earnings, she can still save for retirement. Meetings and commutes may be distant memories for her, but retirement planning shouldn't be.
"Somebody at home is more preoccupied with the here and now -- a child, an ailing parent and so forth," says Eleanor Blayney, consumer advocate for the CFP Board. "At-home spouses have to make a concerted attempt to keep retirement front and center."
Open a spousal IRA. Your working spouse can make yearly contributions on your behalf -- up to $5,500 in 2013, or $6,500 if you're older than 50 -- as long as he or she earns enough to cover the contribution. That adds up: Save $5,500 for, say, 10 years. After another 20 years, you'll have $294,059 if your money grows at 7 percent.
Keep saving. Spouses can gift unlimited amounts to each other. Save these gifts in an account that's specifically dedicated to your retirement. "It's harder to spend ... if it's labeled," says Blayney.
Guard against mishaps. A workplace life insurance plan may not be enough in the event you're suddenly widowed. Get extra coverage. Find a quote for term policies at Bankrate's insurance center.
Stay employable. You're home today, but keep ties to your profession. Network. Update skills. "Don't go completely fallow," says Blayney. "Prepare."