Freelancing? How to save for retirement

By Susie Poppick, Money magazine


(MONEY Magazine) -- Question: I'm facing a layoff this year. What's the best way for a freelancer to save for retirement? -- Danica, Los Angeles

Answer: Before you sweat retirement, make sure you have money tucked away to cover living expenses and health insurance for at least a year, says San Francisco financial adviser Douglas Rice. Then choose among the tax-advantaged options.

For most freelancers, a SEP-IRA is the winner. You can open one at just about any bank or fund company, and you can contribute up to 20% of your annual income (a max of $49,000).

You have until April 2012 to put money in for 2011, so you can increase your contribution if you wind up earning more than you'd expected.

And if you have a banner year, you can supplement the SEP with a traditional IRA, says New York City financial adviser Erika Safran, which would let you sock away another $5,000.

Think you can stash more than 20% of your income?

With a Solo 401(k), you can contribute $16,500, plus 20% of any additional income, up to $49,000 a year. The downside: more administrative hassles.

Finally, if you don't expect to earn much freelancing but think you can save most of it -- say, you wind up finding another job soon but still want to moonlight now and then -- go with a Simple IRA. You can put away up to 100% of your income, but no more than $11,500 a year.  To top of page

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