Editor's Note: Do you have a financial question? Crosswalk.com welcomes financial columnist, Deborah Nayrocker. Deborah will be answering selected readers' questions in her monthly column.

Dear Deborah,

We are a married couple in our middle 50’s. My husband has a retirement plan at his work. We both have IRA’s but have not contributed to them for many years. We are mostly counting on my husband’s retirement from his company to fund our retirement. It makes up about 75% of our retirement funds. Should we still be contributing to an IRA or just rely on what we already have? Also, if you suggest contributing to an IRA should it be a Simple IRA or a Roth? We have both of them.

Dear Reader,

You and your husband definitely need to increase your savings for retirement. It’s not a good idea to rely on the savings you already have. The combination of what your husband’s company offers and your individual savings likely isn’t going to be enough.

We are living longer and it’s probable that you or your spouse will live to be 90 or older. In addition, company pension plans today are providing less toward people’s retirement. And we shouldn’t depend on the Social Security benefits that our parents and grandparents enjoy today.

You didn’t mention if your husband’s retirement plan at work is a defined benefit plan, a defined contribution plan, or a 401(k) plan. If he has a defined benefit plan, it’s likely there are no new deposits going into the pension plan, just interest accumulating. If it’s a defined contribution plan, there may be new deposits going in. If your husband isn’t contributing now to a 401(k) plan, the employer probably isn’t contributing either.

First of all, if your husband’s company offers a 401(k) plan, he should contribute at least up to the matching amount. The company matching amount is usually 3% to 5%, and is considered “free money” toward retirement savings. Maximize this avenue of savings.

Secondly, the money beyond the company match can go to a Roth IRA account. You can contribute up to the maximum amount allowed per year. Paying taxes on a Roth IRA deposit now could mean a lower tax rate later if taxes go up.

By contributing to the 401(k) and Roth IRA, you are diversifying your tax strategy, with tax deferred funds and income tax free funds.

Remember that IRA and 401(k) funds are simply avenues for investments. Maintain a portfolio that doesn’t risk big losses to principal. Consider balanced funds or defensive allocation strategies. Asset allocation includes cash, bonds, and stocks.

Finally, when considering your investments, what is it that motivates you when saving? What will benefit you more cumulatively? Prepare and plan, looking at the big picture.  


Deborah Nayrocker writes on personal money management topics, showing others how to take control of their financial future. An award-winning writer, she is a regular guest contributor to CBN.com and the author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and Living a Balanced Financial Life. Learn more about her work at http://www.artofdebt-freeliving.com/.