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Want to retire on your timetable? Contribute to your accounts!

"It says the husband gets to retire when he wants and the wife should just go along."

Retired couple_photostock_FreeDigitalPhotos_ID-10033333 (2)That was the hubby this morning, reading the New York Times article on how working couples cope when they don't retire at the same time.

That's why I keep him around. He's hilarious.

A shared sense of humor is crucial to making a marriage last. So is being able to talk about money. Like how much money you'll need to retire when each of you wants.

Making sure we get our rocking chairs on the same porch at the same time is a major topic for the hubby and me. We are not alone.

A recent telephone survey found that couples discuss retirement planning an average of 14 times a year.

Saving, but not enough: The Financial Freedom telephone poll sponsored by Capital One ShareBuilder also found that 72 percent of employed adults say they're contributing an average of 6.4 percent of their annual incomes to retirement.

But they know that's not enough. Overall, people who participated in the survey believe they should be saving about double that.

Most, 58 percent, said they plan to retire by the traditional retirement age of 65, yet nearly the same percentage fear that they'll never save enough.

Another 41 percent believe they are saving less than the average person their age.

"Unfortunately, saving for retirement is often put on the back-burner for what seem like more pressing financial priorities, such as paying for college," said Dan Greenshields, president of Capital One ShareBuilder, Inc. "Now more than ever, Americans are responsible for ensuring their own financial security during retirement, and the earlier you begin to plan and save, the better."

But still confident: Despite struggles to save for retirement, the Financial Freedom survey also found that most still-working Americans are more confident when it comes to making investment decisions, including those for their retirement accounts.

Confidence also was higher in the Employee Benefits Research Institute's 2014 retirement survey.

The percentage of workers confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement was at record lows between 2009 and 2013, but increased this year.

The EBRI survey found 18 percent are now very confident, up from 13 percent in 2013, that they will have enough money for a enjoy a comfortable retirement. Another 37 percent are somewhat confident of having a big enough nest egg.

The EBRI study, however, also found that the confident folks were almost all those who had retirement plans, including IRAs.

Nearly half of workers without a retirement plan were not at all confident about their financial security in retirement.

Retirement plan limits: The takeaway from both polls and the New York Times article is that we all need to be socking away as much as we can right now in our retirement plans.

That includes our IRAs, traditional or Roth; any workplace plan, such as a 401(k); and/or self-employed retirement plans.

UPDATE: 2017 tax year retirement plan contribution maximums can be found here.

Today's Daily Tax Tip offers a look at the maximum contribution amounts to the various retirement plans. It covers both 2013, since contributions can still be made to some of the accounts this year for the previous tax year, and for the 2014 tax year

Plan type 2013 limits 2014 limits
IRA, Roth and traditional $5,500
with $1,000 catch-up contribution for those age 50 or over
with $1,000 catch-up contribution for those age 50 or over
Defined contribution plans, e.g.
401(k), 403(b), 457(b)
with $5,500 catch-up contribution for those age 50 or over
with $5,500 catch-up contribution for those age 50 or over
SEP IRA $51,000 $52,000
SIMPLE IRA or 401(k) $12,000
with $2,500 catch-up contribution for those age 50 or over
with $2,500 catch-up contribution for those age 50 or over


Income contribution issues: Also keep an eye on your earnings.

There are income limits for contributing to a Roth IRA. For 2013, if you are a single or head-of-household filer and make between $112,000 and $127,000, your Roth contribution is reduced. For 2014, that earnings range is $114,000 to $129,000.

Married joint filers see a reduced Roth contribution when their combined incomes are between $178,000 and $188,000 in 2013 and $181,000 and $191,000 in 2014.

When your income exceeds the top of the range for your filing status, you can't open or contribute to a Roth IRA.

Traditional IRA account owners also need to keep an eye on their income if they are hoping to take an above-the-line deduction for those contributions and they or their spouses have a retirement plan at work.

Any deduction is reduced if in 2013 you had a workplace plan and made between $59,000 and $69,000 as a single filer or between $95,000 and $115,000 if married filing a joint return. For 2014, the earnings phaseouts are between $60,000 and $70,000 for single taxpayers and between $96,000 and $116,000 for jointly filing married couples.

If in 2013 you didn't have a workplace retirement plan, but your spouse with whom you file a joint return did, then in 2013 your deduction is reduced if your combined income is between $178,000 and $188,000. If in 2014, the joint income phaseout limit is between $181,000 and $191,000.

And either year, if you make more than the top phase-out amount for your filing status, you can't deduct your traditional IRA contribution.

The bottom line is don't just talk about retiring with your husband or wife, start or increase your contributions to all of your retirement savings. That way you and your spouse will have more time to talk about how to spend your time when you do quit working.

Editorial image of happy retired couple courtesy photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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