One of the scary things when you aren’t working (besides covering the bills) is the fear of falling behind in your retirement. Enter the spousal IRA.
If you’re married and filing jointly, this option basically enables your working spouse to contribute to their own retirement accounts and up to $5,000 for a spousal IRA for you ($6,000 if you’re going to be 50 or older as of 12/31/11).
There’s nothing special about a spousal IRA—it can be a regular tax-deferred account, a taxable account or a Roth IRA. And even if you didn’t earn the money, it’s still considered yours, not your spouse’s.
If you did earn some money, you can contribute to the spousal IRA as well. It’s just that the contribution guidelines are based on your spouse’s income and how much they are already contributing toward their own retirement.
Granted—when you’re down to one income, saving for retirement may feel like a stretch. But consider this:
If you relied on, say, your husband’s contributions alone, do you really think that’s going to yield enough for the two of you to retire on?
We don’t think so either.