How Should Stay-at-Home Parents Save for Retirement?

February 26, 2023

It can be difficult navigating how to save for retirement for a spouse that is a stay-at-home parent. In this highlight, Brian brings a lot of clarity to this subject and gives insight on what options you have for retirement for stay-at-home parents.


It’s Brian Preston, The Money Guy. Tina has a question for you guys. She says, “I’m a stay-at-home mom. Should I even worry about my Roth IRA when my husband makes over 150k a year and maxes out his 401k already? We also have over 1.5 million in investments, so she’s kind of like, what should I be doing? Should I even worry about this?”

Brian, you have an interesting thought on this, or there’s a thing I think that you’re going to talk about that I think is interesting. But one of the things that I would say to Tina is we love when you talk about the Financial Order of Operations, and you get to step five and we’re talking about tax-free saving opportunities. And you have your Roth IRA and you have your HSA, and you say, “You know what, my husband’s already maxing out his 401k, and he’s already maxing out his Roth IRA.” So right there, I know that $6,000 soon to be $6,500 is going into a Roth every year for your husband.

You know what’s cooler than $6,000 of tax-free money going into accounts? Twelve thousand dollars of tax-free money going into accounts. That’s one of the beautiful things that’s available for couples where one of the spouses stays at home. Even if you don’t have an earned income, even if you’re not out there working, generating income outside of the household, you can still do what’s called a spousal IRA. So, so long as your spouse makes over $12,000 a year, he or she can fund an IRA, and then you can also fund an IRA, which is an amazing opportunity for you guys as a household to continue to build tax-free dollars.

I don’t know if her question was around that or more, “Hey, does it make sense for me to have assets in my name?” Yeah, I do think it’s important because a lot of people probably don’t realize because they know when you hear Roth money, Roth IRA money, you have to have earned income. That is very true. However, your spouse’s income applies to you having earned income. So make sure you’re not leaving that money on the table because it’s exactly right. Six thousand dollars going into a Roth IRA is awesome. Twelve thousand dollars is even better.

This gets to the second point of where Bo was going, is that, look, when you get to estate planning, and then I’m going to tell you just personally, I think this is a good objective to have, there’s what’s called asset splitting. It’s nice if you can have, try to balance, you know, because remember we get here huge federal exemptions on your estate taxes for both spouses in the marriage. And it’s not uncommon that the working spouse will start stacking money up in the fact that their employer plan is going to probably be the first account across seven figures. That’s what all the research shows on millionaires. But the non-working spouse, you don’t want to get in a situation where you have no money in your name.

I know in my own household, you know, we had an issue where not all marriages work out, and I know there was some insecurity that my, you know, when we go over the annual net worth statement, my wife was like, “Hey, I’d love to see more, I’d like to have some assets in my name.” And I could tell that this was something that was bothering her. So, I wanted her to have more money in her name so that there was some balance there.

For more information, check out the Financial Order of Operations course here.



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