Friday, January 20, 2023

The Roth IRA

The first investment account every person should have is a Roth IRA.  You can open this kind of account at Vanguard, or any other provider that you choose.  Money in this account is allowed to grow tax-free, and you also don't have to pay tax on it when you take the money out.

A Roth IRA is the most tax-advantaged retirement account you can take advantage of if you are low or medium income.  It's the perfect account for anyone who is young or early in their career, and anyone who is new to investing.

Contribution Limits

The contribution limit is currently $6,000 per year, or the amount of your earned income, whichever is less.  That's how much you are allowed to deposit into the account yourself.  It doesn't include earnings (growth from the investments held in the account) or rollovers (transfers from other accounts).  The limit is shared between Traditional IRA and Roth IRA, so if you contribute the maximum to one, you won't be able to contribute any to the other that year.

Income Limits - Eligibility

If you are single, and your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is below $124,000, you can contribute up to the maximum each year. If your income is above $139,000, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA at all.  If your income is between those two numbers, you can make a partial contribution (less than the maximum, calculated according to your exact income).

If married, with a combined income below $196,000, you can contribute up to the maximum each year. If your combined income is above $206,000, you cannot contribute at all. Between those two numbers allows a partial contribution.

Tax Benefits

Roth IRAs contain post-tax dollars (you make deposits using money you have already paid taxes on).

Roth IRAs grow tax-free.

Roth IRA contributions can be withdrawn at any time, penalty-free and tax-free. There is no age requirement. However, Roth IRA earnings and rollovers cannot be withdrawn before age 59.5, or they are subject to a 10% penalty (still no taxes though).

Recommended Providers

Vanguard is never a bad choice.

Robo-advisors are good if you are just getting started, or if you want a hands-off approach.

Recommended Investments

Index funds are the name of the game.

Target date funds are a great way to have a mix of index funds and bonds that gradually shifts towards the safety of bonds as you get older.

Advanced Strategies

Backdoor conversions are a way to fund your Roth IRA beyond the limits.

Self-directed IRAs allow you to invest in riskier assets at your own discretion, like real estate and businesses.