{What Is an IRA?} The Millennial Woman’s Guide to Beginners Investing

As a millennial woman, I know many of my female peers shy away from conversations about money and becoming financially fit for fear of looking ignorant for not knowing the basics. Financial vocabulary is spoken and some hear Charlie Brown’s teacher and stop listening. I want to help break down self-imposed barriers that could be keeping us from confidently making smart money moves.

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THE BASICS

Whether or not you have an interest in saving and/or investing money, I could bet that you have an interest in learning how to make it grow. So listen up, take notes, and let’s start planting financial seeds of knowledge. First up, the IRA.

An IRA or an (Individual Retirement Account) is a savings account where money grows tax-free with a max contribution of no more than $5,550.00 ($6500.00 if you are 50 or older) for 2015 and 2016. TAX FREE. F-R-E-E! That free part is what should make it exciting and intriguing, even for those who have no interest in investing. There are two types of IRA accounts: a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA and the differences between the two are when you pay taxes on the money. Regardless of the fact that your money is growing tax-free in both types of accounts, you still have to pay Uncle Sam his cut. With a Roth IRA you pay the taxes up front and with a Traditional IRA you pay the taxes at the time of withdrawal. Regardless of the type of IRA you have, you can access your money once you hit 59 ½  years old, without getting hit with a 10% tax penalty for early distribution.

IRAS AND MILLENNIALS

I know, I know….generally speaking millennials are not very interested in saving for retirement. We are, however, very good at saving for the emergency of the present or for big things like college/student loan expenses or even buying a house for the first time. If you needed to tap into your contributions right not, your IRA will give you far more flexibility than a 401K or a 403(b). Assuming you meet the necessary requirements, this type of account can be used to offset qualified education expenses (like tuition, books, fees, supplies, and equipment required for enrolling) if you attend an IRS-approved institution or even buying your first home without penalties.
The best thing yet, if you are a 20 something….or even a 30 something like me, time is still on your side. According to this article entitled, Why You Need A Roth IRA, writer Kevin McCormally explains it well with regards to the Roth IRA, youth, and compounding interest:

“If a 25-year-old contributes $5,000 each year until she retires and makes an average annual return of 8% on her investment, she’ll have $1.4 million saved by the time she retires at age 65. And the money is all hers—she won’t have to give the IRS a cent of it if she waits until retirement to withdraw the earnings”.

Related Article: How Youth Is On Your Side

Although it is already 2016, you still have until the tax deadline to make/claim contributions from last year. That is to say, if you have $5,500.00 laying around in your mattress or in a money market, you might want to consider opening an IRA for that $5,550.00 deductible on your taxes THIS tax season.

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