Actively Saving Managing Life Changes

Saving for retirement is likely not the only financial priority on your list. As life shifts—in family structure, occupation and financial obligations—strive to maintain and increase your contributions even when things like mortgage payments, education expenses, vacation costs and other expenses compete. Use each change as an opportunity to evaluate your savings and update your beneficiaries.

Job Changes

If you change jobs or shift careers, make a plan for what to do with any retirement savings accounts you had with your old company. Depending on the type of retirement plan offered by your former employer, your choices will vary.

While taking a distribution of your savings is an option, it's not recommended. Not only will you sacrifice compounding interest, but you'll also suffer the pain of a ten percent IRS early withdrawal penalty, further reducing your total savings. For those reasons, your best bets may be to:

  • leave your retirement savings in your current plan or
  • roll over your savings to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or another employer-sponsored plan.

Before you make a decision, consider the following issues:

  • Distribution or rollover eligibility: Are you eligible to make the choice you want to? Check the rules governing distributions and rollovers to be certain.
  • Investment flexibility and control: Does one option come with more constraint that another? Identify how much control you want to have over your savings.
  • Services and features: Are there advantages one plan offers that the other doesn't? Take a look at the differences between them and choose the one that will best meet your needs.
  • Taxes and penalties: Will the choice you make cause you to incur any penalties or have to pay additional taxes? Strive to avoid actions that will reduce your savings.
  • Impact on retirement future: How will your decision impact your ability to save? Assess whether the future of your savings will be negatively or positively affected.

Whatever course of action you choose, update your beneficiaries whenever you make a change.


When you get married, you're not only joining lives; you may be combining households, finances and families, so it's essential to discuss financial goals with your partner and see how they both align. Focus on financial expectations at different stages in your life (especially retirement) and remember to update your beneficiaries.

In terms of savings vehicles, IRAs are an effective way for couples to save for retirement. Each spouse must have his or her own IRA to receive contributions; you can't have a "joint" IRA. Even if only one spouse is earning income, contributions can be made into each IRA plan as long as the following requirements are met:

  • You are married and file a joint federal tax return
  • You or your spouse have/has compensation or earned income to cover the contribution amount
  • The non-compensated spouse has an IRA and is under age 70½ (in the case of a Traditional IRA)


Continue your commitment to saving for retirement even as your family expands. While you provide for their future, remember to provide for yourself. Adjust your budget to fit your family. You may have to cut back on retirement saving, but don't stop altogether and never use your retirement funds to pay for education expenses. Take advantage of education-exclusive savings plans to pay for that. Again, revisit your beneficiaries and make any necessary changes.

Next: Avoiding Shortfalls

Want to increase your retirement savings?

Boost your IRA contributions or add a certificate to the mix.

Not sure where to start? Contact a financial advisor at 1-877-221-8108.

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