When kids leave home, empty-nesters typically increase their 401(k) saving by less than 1% of pay, a recent Boston College study found. That may not be enough to get you where you want to go. So before you find new ways to use those dollars, bump up your saving by the amount you had been spending on tuition and room and board. The rules on catch-up contributions to retirement accounts can help. Starting at age 50, you can add an extra $6,000 a year to a 401(k), up to a $24,000 maximum; IRA investors can put in an extra $1,000, for a total of $6,500 a year.
Beth Weimer, 57, says neither she nor husband Russ, 56, “ really planned well during our first marriages.” When they got together in their mid-forties, they made preparing for retirement a priority. Russ worked out a plan that could enable them to retire before age 60, assuming they set aside about 20% of their pay each year. “You have to have a shared vision,” says Beth.