How to Invest Your IRA

Galia Gichon from Down to Earth Finance says, “You can’t control the economy or the stock market, but you can control your money.  The secret is to work as hard to manage it as you do to earn it – and not get overwhelmed by important things like budgets, cash flow and saving for retirement.”

In her latest newsletter, she talks about how, where, and what to invest in an IRA. (She'll also be leading a Breakfast Roundtable on this topic at CFC, June 5-6 in Denver.)

I realized so many of you have those same questions.  Before you begin investing in an IRA, ask these questions:

* Do you already have an IRA or any other investments open? If so, that may be the easiest or just a good place to start.  Just make sure you are happy and familiar with your investment firm.

* If you want to do it super cheap and still get excellent investments, I like Fidelity and Vanguard. Their minimum to OPEN is $2,500 and $3,000 respectively. Once the mutual fund within the IRA is open, you can add as little as $100 at a time.

* If you earn less than $120,000 as a single person or $177,000 as a married couple, you should open a ROTH IRA and contribute up to $5,000 a year (or $6,000 if you are over 50).

* Now for the investments. If you don't have any yet, that's easier. You can start with a Balanced Mutual Fund (a mutual fund with both stocks and bonds); also called Moderate Allocation. Please call me for specific names.

* If you have other investments, it is a bit more complicated because you want to make sure you aren't buying the same investment. The key is to make sure you are diversified, and investing for your risk level and time frame.

* SRI (socially responsible investing). Traditionally, they aren't the best performers and are more expensive than other funds but if it is important to you, check out Pax or Calvert, 2 leading SRI funds.

* Are you earning lots of money and work for yourself? If so, you should consider opening a SEP IRA because you can put much more away per year (up to 25% of your income capped at $29,000/year) and it saves you money on taxes today.

Learn more from Galia in person at the Creative Freelancer Conference. Sign up here.