IRA Blunders

If you have been contributing to Individual Retirement Accounts over the years or have rolled a lump-sum pension distribution into an IRA, you have taken solid steps toward building a strong retirement nest egg. But three common blunders can keep you from getting the greatest income possible when you retire.

Blunder #1. Too many IRA accounts

If you have been investing in IRAs since they were created in 1976, you may have as many as twenty different IRA accounts scattered among banks, stockbrokers and mutual funds, and you are paying annual fee for each account. You can save hundreds of dollars each year in account fees by consolidating your accounts. Ask your stockbroker to open a self-directed IRA and arrange for a direct transfer of assets from your other IRA accounts. Alternatively, invest your IRA assets in several funds run by one mutual fund family that will consider your total investments and reduce account fees accordingly.

Blunder #2. The wrong investments

If you are years away from retirement, don’t invest your IRA money in low-interest

short-term cash investments such as certificates of deposit or money market accounts. You’ll get a greater long-term return by investing in solid stock mutual funds on a regular basis. Increasing your investment yield just 2% will result in 50% more return over twenty years.

Blunder #3. Investing too late

Although it pays to delay tax payments until the last minute, you should make IRA contributions as early as possible. You have until April 15 to contribute to your IRA, but you should make your IRA contributions early in the year so they will earn on a tax-deferred basis all year. Making contributions at the beginning of each year rather than fifteen months later on April 15 will result in thousands of extra dollars at retirement.

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