BOSTON (CBS) – If you turned 50 this year there are a couple of bonuses; first you can join AARP and the second is you can contribute more dollars to your retirement plan.

Congress defines the older American as anyone over 50. They realized that many folks over 50 have not saved very much. Hence a law allowing catch-up contributions for folks over age 50.

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You can contribute an extra $6,000 to your 401(k), 403(b) and 457. If your employer’s plan allows the catch-up and if you have the extra cash you could max out your contributions at $24,000 this year. Both the 403(b) plan and the 457 plan have an additional catch-up provision as well.

According to a recent study, only 3% of workers take advantage of the catch-up provision. Congress thought this was a really good idea. Duhh……….. Where did they think workers were going to get the extra dollars? To contribute $24,000 a year you will need to be earning really big bucks.

Most families are stretched so thin that they cannot afford to max out their current retirement plans.

Many small companies offer their employees a SIMPLE IRA retirement plan. The maximum contribution is $12,500.  But if you are over 50, and can afford the catch-up, you can add an additional $3,000 this year to your account.

If you are using an IRA to save for retirement, the maximum contribution is $5,500 this year and the catch-up contributions is $1,000.

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Catch-up provisions can be a great tool, but you need to have the extra cash available. If you are a two-income family and you are both over 50 and can tighten your belts and live on one income start maximizing your retirement plans and use the catch-up provisions.

Do that for 5 or 10 years and you will build up your retirement nest egg quickly. $24,000 contributed annually over 10 years; with an average return of even just 5%, you could have over $300,000 in that nest egg.

Having a comfortable nest egg allows you choices in retirement.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m. and 3:55 p.m.

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