The IRS has announced cost-of-living adjustments that affect workplace retirement plans.
The threshold for workers who contribute to employer-sponsored 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan will increase to $19,000, up from $18,500.
The catch-up contribution limit for employees 50 and older who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan will remain at $6,000.
The yearly limit for IRA contributions will also get a boost to $6,000, up from $5,500. The catch-up contribution limit for individuals 50 and older will remain at $1,000. So, if you’re 50 or older in 2019 you can contribute $7,000.
Read more: What’s your retirement readiness score?
The income limits to be able to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA are also increasing. Here are the phaseout ranges for 2019, according to the IRS:
— Single taxpayers covered by a workplace retirement plan is now $64,000 to $74,000, up from $63,000 to $73,000.
— Married couples filing jointly, where the spouse making the IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, $103,000 to $123,000, up from $101,000 to $121,000.
— For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction is phased out if the couple’s income will be between $193,000 and $203,000, up from $189,000 and $199,000.
— For a married individual filing a separate return who is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the phaseout range is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment and remains $0 to $10,000.
The income limits for the Roth IRA will be $122,000 to $137,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $120,000 to $135,000. For married couples filing jointly, the income range will be $193,000 to $203,000, up from $189,000 to $199,000.
The cost-of-living increases for these retirement plans is a good move. But the reality is that most Americans don’t come close to maxing out their workplace plans. Many aren’t contributing anything.
How’s your retirement savings coming? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city and state. Put “Retirement Limits” in the subject line.
Retirement rants and raves
I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement or aging. What do you like about retirement? What came as a surprise?
If you haven’t retired yet, what concerns you financially?
You can rant or rave. This space is yours. It’s a chance for you to express what’s on your mind. Send your comments to email@example.com. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”
Michelle D.V. of West Des Moines, Iowa, wanted to weigh in on the debate about when to start taking Social Security retirement benefits.
Michelle said she turned 62 in March and she decided to receive Social Security. Her husband, Mark, is still working and reached his full retirement age of 66 in October. But he has not started collecting Social Security. Before there was a rule change, Mark filed for spousal benefits under his wife’s record, which allows him to collect $1,200 a month (50 percent of her full benefit at retirement age).
“After calculating the ‘break even’ point, it made sense for me to file,” she said. “We are using my entire benefit to pay down the 6.8 percent parent/student loans we borrowed when our youngest started college in 2008, which was a very bad year to begin dipping into savings/investments to pay for college. I spent a considerable amount of time researching and reading articles about Social Security before I turned 62. It is confusing, and I learned that even employees at Social Security don’t always have the answers. It’s no wonder many people don’t know what to do. Based on what I learned, I feel comfortable that we made the right choice for us. At least I hope we did …
Lots of folks wanted to add to the discussion on the “FIRE” movement.
Mark Pashia of Sullivan, Mo., wrote, “One of my worries about this movement is that they leave no safety net if they do not accumulate enough “quarters” of earnings to qualify for Social Security. I really like the idea and approach to finances, but they should only retire after some Social Security is assured.
Karen Huddle of Richmond wrote, “I’m very skeptical of most of them. My guess is there is a good deal of side income or inheritances at work for a cushion. At 54 I live very frugally with a paid off house and no debt. But every time I have a financial plan done by my nonprofit’s trade association the investment adviser says I shouldn’t retire at 60. I’m a bit scared of health insurance expenses prior to Medicare. I feel like it would be doable now except for housing and insurance.”
Arlene Ritley of San Antonio wrote, “Both my husband and I are retired. However, we both continue to work part time. The small amount we receive from our jobs keeps us from withdrawing money from our nest egg.
I do believe it can be done, but only if you start off with a lot of money in your stock portfolio. Then you pray that the stock market doesn’t tank, you stay healthy, and that someone close to you that you love doesn’t come to you for monetary help, your taxes don’t go up, your teeth and eyes and feet stay strong, and you don’t slip on black ice forcing you to see a specialist outside of your medical plan.”
“Sigh. FIRE. Everyone is talking about it —- PBS, NPR, major magazines and now even you Michelle have discussed it many times,” wrote Nikhila Pai of Berkeley, Calif. “It’s like extreme couponing. Yes, if you can adjust your brain to get into the game, it’s amazing what you can do. Same with FIRE. My husband LOVES Mr. Money Mustache and reads him all the time — even his older blog posts. But me? I’m the one managing our money and I just can’t see a way to do it and it depresses me. I’d love to stay home and raise my kids, ride bikes everywhere and pursue a lucrative blogging side gig. But I wasn’t a tech genius in my 20s and 30s, nor was my spouse. We made peanuts and spent it on booze and dancing while living in San Francisco. Now in our 40s we’re making good money, but it’s covering mortgages, child care, elder care, insurance payments, retirement and college savings plans. I’m doing well financially, but FIRE makes me feel like a failure.”
If you’re feeling the same way read: Retire early or keep on working? How to prepare for either choice.
Many devotees of the FIRE movement boast about saving 40 percent or more of their income. That’s admirable, but if you can’t do the same because you’re just barely making all the ends meet don’t beat yourself up.
Pull from the FIRE movement the things that can work for you — save as much as you can, try to fight the need for more stuff, etc.
But know this: You are not a financial failure if you can’t retire early.
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