Have you contributed to your IRA today?

By Mir
August 24, 2008

Oh, I know we’ve talked about retirement before—although I think I owe you a more detailed post on retirement accounts—but I was moving some money into my IRA this morning and thought to myself, “Self, you should mention this on Want Not.”

So here you go; a Sunday-morning “Do you know where your money is?” post.

Go read this, and go plug some numbers into this. I know we have a lot of stay-at-home parents reading here, and it is particularly important that all of you have retirement accounts, even though you are the population least likely to be planning for retirement.

Bottom line: If you have any money to spare, you should be putting it into a retirement account. If you don’t have any money to spare, find some. The longer you wait to invest, the less you’ll have when you need it. I challenge each and every one of you to deposit something to a retirement account this week—and then leave me a comment when you do, so that I can tell you how smart and pretty you are.


  1. Thanks for the reminder Mir, I just put some money into my IRA. Now please tell me how pretty I am even though I hardly got any sleep last night 🙂

  2. Thanks, Mir! This is definitely something I need to be thinking about, as I’m going to be a SAHM this time next week. (!!!) I can’t promise that I’m going to do it this week, as goodness knows how long it will take to roll over the stuff from my current (pathetic) retirement account, but we’re going to make regular contributions to my account a priority.

  3. I cashed in everything when I went back to school at age 44. I graduated at 50 with a master’s degree, no debt and no retirement. Since then I haven’t been able to make ends meet, although they do occasionally wave to each other. It does worry me sometimes.

    But I’m doing something I love, so I don’t care if I have to work til I die – in fact, I hope I do. 🙂

  4. I contribute to a 403b with every paycheck (yay for cafeteria plans!).. but I wish schools would work out a system where they match like corporations do. I know that, in the end, it would just make everybody’s taxes go up, so it would probably all even out somewhere down the line… but as long as I’m wishing, I can wish for whatever I want, right?!?

  5. Just some food for thought, I have also read that it is more important to contribute to your retirement account than to your kids college savings accounts. Your kids can get scholarships and loans if need be but there are no scholarships for retirement.

    Mir, thanks for reminding us to think for our own futures! We should think about using some of the pennies we save from reading your blog to contribute to our retirement. 🙂

  6. We got a late start, but for the past 4 years or so we have been contributing from every paycheck. We have it automatically go into our IRAs and our joint account each payday so we never even miss the money. I’m a SAHM so this is my only retirement option right now. I do wish we had started sooner though….

  7. We put money in each and every payday. And we increase the % that we contribute each time my husband gets a raise.

    This is one money habit we do correctly. 🙂

  8. After 8 years of SAHM’ish life (and leaning on hubby for retirement savings), I am heading back to work where they automatically put 10% into retirement and match 10.5%.


  9. Once again a very well timed post. I’ve just gotten some reoccurring debts paid off (surgery bills) and was planning on sticking extra money into my savings. But now I will start contributing to my 401k plan. Thanks for the nudge!

  10. Yep, was done last month. Both DH and mine are maxed out for the year already. We also max out both our 401K plans and health savings account every year. Can’t get enough tax free savings.

  11. We’ve rolled over my former 401k (from before I was a SAHM), my husband still has one, plus stock options, and we contribute each month to an IRA (plus some other stuff here and there). I think we do relatively well considering the base salary isn’t much to work with! Good thing we’re both cheap – oops, FRUGAL.

  12. Ok, can I ask a question? What if you’re really in a tight place financially and paying off debt? What is more important – paying off the debt or saving for retirement?? At this moment, aside from my Dh’s work plan, we’re not putting anything aside bc it’s all going to debt. Any thoughts?

  13. @Kristine: I’m in the same situation you are — have been for a couple of years now. The advice I’ve been given by my credit counselor as well as other “money” folks is to aggressively pay down your debt, but try to put even a little token aside in a retirement account. The debt will cost you far more in the long run.

    I am not a financial expert and I don’t play one on TV — this is just what I’ve been told by folks. YMMV!

  14. Honestly, we barely make ends meet most months. But the one thing I did right was joining the 401K plan at work. I’m only 26 now, but I’ve been contributing for 3 years and have no intention of stopping. Once we get to a better place, I’ll need to up my contribution %. But I think joining my work’s 401K plan as soon as I was eligible was one of the few smart money choices I’ve made in the past 4 years.

  15. I was informed 6 weeks ago, while 7 months pregnant, that I’m going to be laid off effective a couple of weeks after the baby is due. The severance package is good, so we aren’t panicking, but we’re certainly economizing.

    Until that notice, I’d been contributing 15% to my 401k, with my company matching half of the first 6%. I debated ending the contributions entirely, but instead scaled back to 6%. I just couldn’t bear the idea of leaving money on the table, even if I don’t get access to it for another 25-30 years.

  16. My husband and I both have IRA that we contribute to on a monthly basis. It’s an automatic transaction so I never really miss the money. We did split it up that mine comes out the beginning of the month and his half way so it doesn’t hit us all at once.

    And even though I’m not currently working out of the house I do still have my 401K from my previous employer which is still making money even in todays economy.

    And my husband has his TSP plan through the military that we contribute to every paycheck also.

    I think all in all we’re doing ok for ourselves since we’re not even 30 yet.

  17. I came out of a terrible first marriage with nothing but the clothes on my back and a dog. Oh, and a lot of debt in my name. It wasn’t easy getting out of debt, and I think I did it at the expense of saving for retirement. I’m now out of debt and saving aggressively, but I wish that I had taken more steps to avoid debt in the first place, make more money (would it have hurt me to wait tables? no), and generally get ahead smarter and faster.

    I know that in my case and for most Americans there are always excuses not to save, for good or ill, and you have to fight that tendency. Saving feels so… responsible! 🙂

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