Q: My husband and I are 40 years old. We are both employed and are able to live on either income. We currently have $100,000 invested in the stock market that is earmarked for our retirement. We also have $122,000 in our 401(k) and IRA accounts.

If one of us quits our job and we contribute the max to a single 401(k) plus $4,000 to our IRA accounts until we’re 60, and pay off our mortgage (our only debt), how much money will we end up with?

A: You’ve left out a little bit of information, but I’ll make some informed guesses. First, you didn’t include your annual salary with your letter, but the current maximum contribution to a 401(k) is $10,500. If you tack on another $4,000 for your annual IRA contribution, you’re saving close to $15,000 every year.

According to the Money Magazine calculator, at www.money.com, you will have saved $1.034 million by the time you’re 60. I calculated this number at an 8 percent return, and guessed that you’ll be in the 27.5 percent tax bracket on one income, though this may be low, especially if you have no mortgage deduction.

I suggest you visit www.money.com, click on calculators, and play with the scenario yourself.

Oct. 28, 2004