With my wife transitioning to a stay-at-home mom role, how can we save so she can retire? She won’t be able to contribute to her 401k and I don’t think we qualify for a Roth IRA based on my income.

What are her other options? Simply save some money and do our own investing?

Edit: We’re in our late 30s. My 401k is maxed out; her 401k isn’t. Don’t know for certain if she’ll re-enter the workforce eventually. Our plan is she will eventually but I’m interested in retirement savings for either eventuality.

  • Are you already maxing out your 401k and IRA's for both of you?
    – Hart CO
    May 8, 2019 at 15:31
  • Are you far from retirement or close to it? What's your approximate income?
    – Corey P
    May 8, 2019 at 15:34
  • 1
    Is she going to be a stay-at-home mom until retirement, or does she plan on re-entering the work force when the children are in school?
    – Ron Beyer
    May 8, 2019 at 15:47
  • If you guys are married for over 10 years when she reaches 62, she will be eligible for social security spousal benefit, which is half of you benefit. This is true whether you remain married or not.
    – zeta-band
    May 8, 2019 at 16:16
  • 3
    @Craig, that doesn't make any sense. If your income is providing for both of you now, then why wouldn't you expect the income from your retirement savings to provide for both of you in retirement?
    – prl
    May 8, 2019 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


There is no income limitation on contributing to a traditional IRA account, so that is always a choice. (The income limitation is on whether you can deduct your contributions from your taxable income or not.) If you really want that into a Roth IRA, you can perform a conversion from traditional to Roth, also known as a back-door Roth.

If she is going to have a small side business while at home, the Self-Employed 401(k) or SEP 401(k) could be a choice.

Otherwise, there is nothing stopping you from opening a regular old brokerage account and saving and investing money there. Sure, it is not tax-advantaged, but it is still saving for retirement. Most of the most tax-advantageous accounts are tied to having a job; there just aren't easy ways around the requirement. That said, the tax rates on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends are still pretty good and should in no way stop you from saving.

  • 1
    "There is no income limitation on contributing to a traditional IRA account" I don't think that you can contribute more than your taxable income. May 8, 2019 at 18:47
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    @Accumulation: technically correct, which as all Futurama fans know is the best kind of correct May 8, 2019 at 20:37
  • For an IRA, wouldn’t we have to pay taxes again when the money comes out of the IRA?
    – Craig
    May 8, 2019 at 21:29
  • @Craig Traditional IRA you deduct the contributions from the taxes today and pay them when you take the money back out. Roth IRA you pay the taxes today, and then you don't owe anything when the money comes back out. There isn't any situation where the money should be double taxed, but you choose whether to pay them immediately or defer them until the future. May 9, 2019 at 15:51

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