Your Family May Not Offer a 401(k): Here are 7 Ways Nannies Can Save for Retirement

Warren Burger

As a nanny, it's rare to find a family offering a 401(k) plan so it's important that you are aware of other options to save for your future.    

There are several options available to build wealth for your retirement, and just like 401(k)s, many of these vehicles also offer tax savings. Here's a breakdown of nine alternative methods to save for your retirement, so you can rest assured that your post-work days are accounted for. 

1. Traditional IRAs

A traditional IRA is one of the most common ways to save for retirement. You can invest your IRA in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash, annuities and the like, although the IRS doesn’t permit IRAs to invest in most coins or collectibles. If you’re not covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan at work, you may contribute up to $6,000 annually to your IRA in 2020 and up to $7,000 once you reach age 50.1 These contributions grow tax-free until you begin making withdrawals. Once you turn 72, you are required to take minimum withdrawals from your account.2 

For those without an employer retirement plan, the entire amount of a traditional IRA contribution is deductible on your federal income tax return. Once you start making withdrawals, the amount is taxed at your regular tax rate.

2. Roth IRAs

While you can’t deduct contributions to a Roth IRA, this type of retirement savings vehicle offers many advantages. Since a Roth IRA is funded with post-tax dollars, you won’t owe taxes on amounts withdrawn during retirement. Unlike a traditional IRA – or a 401(k) – you don’t have to withdraw money from your Roth IRA account upon reaching a certain age, which makes it a viable savings vehicle for those who may intend to pass the money on to heirs. 

You can contribute the same amounts to a Roth as with a traditional IRA. There are income limits for Roth IRA eligibility, which change annually. For 2020, you can contribute the full amount to a Roth IRA if single with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of up to $124,000 and make a partial contribution until your AGI reaches $139,000. For those married and filing jointly, you can contribute the full amount if your AGI is $196,000 or less and make a partial contribution until your AGI reaches $206,000. 3

3. Self-Directed IRAs

A self-directed IRA is a type of IRA through which you can hold unique alternative investments, like real estate, precious metals and cryptocurrency. Following the same eligibility and contribution limits as a traditional IRA, self-directed IRAs are different in that they come with increased rules depending on the type of investment. They also require account holders to primarily manage their accounts, research investment opportunities and understand investment regulations

4. Annuities

Looking to lock in a steady income stream once you retire? Annuities may be a good option. Once you invest in an annuity it begins making payments to you in the future. A fixed annuity gives you a guaranteed payout, while a variable annuity pays out according to the current state of its underlying investments.

5. Universal Life Insurance

This type of life insurance builds a cash value, which grows tax-deferred. You can take out tax-free loans that aren’t paid back during your lifetime and some of the money that goes to paying back the loan after your demise is the policy’s death benefit.

6. Taxable Investments

If you’re able to save more for retirement than an IRA permits, you’ll have to rely on a taxable investment. Look for investments with low fees and low tax consequences, such as index funds.

7. Make Direct Deposits

One of the benefits of an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan is that the money is taken directly from your paycheck, so you really don’t miss it. You can do the same thing with funds aimed for retirement savings. If you work for a family directly, consider establishing a direct deposit account from your paychecks into some form of investment vehicle. This way, you are sending monthly contributions directly to your IRA account.

If your family doesn’t offer a 401(k) plan, there are still many avenues to save for retirement. You can even consider utilizing multiple vehicles according to your needs and capabilities. However, it’s important to educate yourself and speak with a trusted financial professional as some methods may be more fit for you than others depending on your income, age and employment.


This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

By Warren Burger

Get more personal finance tips

Weekly insights delivered directly to your inbox.