This contribution limit is for tax years 2015 and 2016 and represents the total amount you can contribute across all of your Roth and traditional IRAs, including those you hold elsewhere.

“Anytime you can save more for retirement and get tax advantages, we believe you should jump at the chance,” said Maria Bruno, a senior investment analyst with Vanguard Investment Strategy Group. The catch-up provision also applies to spouses age 50 and older. So if you file a joint return, both you and your spouse can make a contribution (up to $6,500 each), even if only one of you has earned income.

Make an IRA contribution

You can open a Vanguard IRA® online in about 10 minutes with as little as $1,000. If you’d like to contribute to an existing Vanguard IRA for 2015 or 2016, simply log on to, select the appropriate account, and follow the steps to buy.

Make an IRA contribution today

Log on to your account

Allow your catch-ups to compound

Taking advantage of the catch-up provision could make a big difference in the size of your retirement nest egg over the long term.

If you invested an extra $1,000 annually in an IRA starting at age 50, you’d have an extra $20,800—$15,000 in catch-up contributions plus $5,800 in earnings—saved by age 65, assuming a hypothetical 4% return after inflation.

The value of catch-up contributions
Catch-up contributions

This example is hypothetical and doesn’t represent returns from any particular investment. Data source: Vanguard.

“This example illustrates the extent to which catch-up contributions can potentially boost an investor’s IRA balance over the long term,” said Ms. Bruno. “If you can afford to maximize your IRA contribution, do it. If it isn’t in the cards right now, make a plan to help you get to the max. In the long run, you’ll be grateful you did.”

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

If you take withdrawals from an IRA before age 59½, you may have to pay ordinary income tax plus a 10% federal penalty tax. Note that the amount you convert to a Roth IRA is not subject to the 10% penalty.

We recommend you consult an independent tax advisor for advice about your situation.