Why Use an IRA Instead of Just Investing?

Why Use an IRA Instead of Just Investing?

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Retirement is an essential consideration for individuals, and having a plan in place to secure a financially stable future is crucial. While there are various investment options available, an IRA is a popular and attractive investment vehicle for retirement savings in the United States. The account offers tax advantages, capital appreciation, and flexibility, making it a compelling option for anyone looking to build wealth and retire comfortably.

This article will talk about why an IRA is better than just investing. We will also compare and contrast its different types and discuss the steps required to open and manage an account. We'll also cover some frequently asked questions that you might find helpful.

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Why Use an IRA Instead of Just Investing?

What is an IRA?

An individual Retirement Account (or IRA) is a special kind of retirement savings account. Compared to more conventional retirement savings vehicles like 401(k)s and pensions, it provides greater freedom and tax-advantaged benefits, making it a very attractive alternative for saving. This is because the financial companies that handle it provide customers with several investing opportunities, ranging from stocks to precious metals.

Its value lies in the fact that it can serve as a useful tool in the process of retirement planning.  With the shift from employer-provided pensions to self-funded retirement savings, it is more important than ever to have a strategy that guarantees financial security in old age. Hence, if you want to save for retirement in a tax-wise manner that still gives you freedom and choice over your assets, this is the choice for you.


Understanding the benefits of IRAs can help you make informed decisions about your investment strategy.

  • Tax advantages: The tax benefits provided by an IRA are among its most attractive features. For instance, there are two main types of retirement accounts, the Traditional and the Roth, and each has its own set of tax advantages. The former allows people to put money away before taxes are taken out. You can deduct your contributions and postpone paying tax on your earnings until you actually take them out of the account. The latter type of account allows for post-tax contributions and tax-free growth of funds.  Thus, this tax-free growth potential can lead to significant savings over time and is a compelling reason to consider opening an IRA.
  • Accessibility: IRAs are widely accessible as most people are qualified to open and contribute to one. For a traditional account, an individual or their spouse only needs to earn taxable income to open an account and make contributions. While there is no age limit for opening or contributing to these, the ability to contribute may be limited depending on the type of account and holder’s age. Lastly, It is quick and easy to open an account through various banks or brokerage firms, and financial institutions, as they typically provide convenient account management options.
  • Flexibility: What makes IRA flexible is that you can make early withdrawals from your account under certain circumstances, such as to pay for higher education expenses or a first-time home purchase. While early withdrawals may result in penalties, the option to access the funds during an emergency can be an important consideration for some. 

The Risks of Investing in Traditional Assets Alone

While traditional investments such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are popular choices for those looking to grow their money, they come with risks that can negatively impact your retirement savings. It's essential to understand these risks to make informed decisions about your assets and future. 

  • Tax Consequences: When you invest in traditional assets, you are subject to capital gains taxes when you sell them. These taxes can significantly impact your returns, especially if you are a high-income earner. Additionally, dividends and interest earned on these investments are subject to taxation. As these can reduce your investment returns, it is harder for you to achieve your retirement savings goals.
  • Market Risk: Investing in traditional assets exposes you to market risk, meaning that the value of your investments can fluctuate according to the market. This can be challenging to manage, and market volatility can result in significant losses in a short period. In some cases, it can take years to recover from economic downturns, resulting in delayed retirement or lower retirement savings.
  • No Savings Goals: Investing in traditional assets lacks the structure of a retirement savings plan. Without a goal in place, you might not save enough to support yourself during your golden years. Additionally, without this, you are more likely to make impulsive investment decisions that can negatively impact your savings.
Why Use an IRA Instead of Just Investing?

Types of IRA

When it comes to IRAs, there are several types to choose from, each with its unique set of rules, benefits, and limitations. In this section, we will explore the different types of IRAs available and the features that make them stand out from the rest.

Traditional IRA

A traditional IRA is the most popular type, offering tax-deferred growth. With this, you can contribute up to a certain amount each year, depending on your age, income, and filing status. Contributions to this account reduce your taxable income for the year, and the money in the account grows tax-free until you withdraw it in retirement. At that point, the withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income. Take note that for the year 2023, traditional accounts have an annual contribution limit of $6,500 or 7,500 if you are aged 50 and older.

One feature that makes traditional accounts stand out is their flexibility. You can contribute to your account until the age of 70 and a half, and choose from a wide range of investment options. Also, this type of account may be a good choice for those who expect to be in a lower tax bracket during retirement.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is another popular type that offers tax-free withdrawals in retirement. With an account of this type, you make after-tax contributions, which means that you pay taxes on the money you contribute upfront. However, your contributions grow tax-free, and you won't have to pay dues on withdrawals in retirement. 

Additionally, there is an early withdrawal penalty if you take out money from your account before you are 59½ years old. There are also certain instances where you can withdraw your money without penalties, such as birth or adoption expenses.

One feature that makes this type of account stand out is unlike traditional accounts, Roth accounts do not have any required minimum distributions (RMDs). This means that you can leave your money in the account to grow tax-free for as long as you want, and you are not required to withdraw it. Thus, it might be better for those who expect to be in a higher tax bracket during retirement to consider opening a Roth account.


A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA is a retirement account designed for self-employed individuals and small business owners with fewer than 25 employees. Through this, employers can make tax-deductible contributions to their employees' accounts. The money in the account grows tax-free until the account owner withdraws the funds in retirement.

One feature that makes SEP accounts stand out is their high contribution limits. Employers can contribute up to 25% of an employee's compensation or a maximum of $66,000 each year, whichever is less. They are also easy to set up and maintain, making them an attractive option for small business owners.

Why Use an IRA Instead of Just Investing?

Precious Metals IRA

A precious metals IRA is a type of self-directed retirement account that allows you to invest in physical gold, as well as other precious metals like silver, platinum, and palladium. Unlike the type mentioned before that invests in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, a precious metals IRA provides an alternative investment avenue that can help protect your retirement savings from inflation and market volatility.

This type of account is relatively new in the industry, so you might be wondering how to start putting your money into these metals. To start, you'll need to work with a reputable precious metals dealer or custodian who specializes in precious metals accounts. Your chosen provider will help you navigate the process of transferring funds from your existing IRA or 401(k) into your new account, as well as purchasing and storing physical bullion.

Gold Companies to Work With

If you are looking for providers to help you learn more about this type of account, don’t worry since we got you covered! As there are thousands of companies claiming they are the best of the best, here are our top 3 precious metals dealers that specialize in this industry.


With over a decade of experience in the precious metals industry, Augusta Precious Metals is a trusted and reliable provider that can help you set up your account. It offers a range of precious metals products and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Lastly, it offers a 7-day refund policy for first-time buyers if ever you are not satisfied with its products. 

#2. Goldco


Goldco is another highly regarded gold IRA provider. Aside from positive customer testimonials on Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot, they are known for their buyback guarantee. This allows clients to sell back their bullion to the company for the highest possible price. This is why liquidating your assets will never be a problem with Goldco.

American Hartford Gold is a top-rated precious metals dealer that can help clients with setting up their gold IRAs. It is suitable for beginners because it is affordable. While it is also appealing to those with limited knowledge about the industry as it also provides a variety of educational resources, including a free precious metals guide and a blog with expert insights and market analysis.

Why Use an IRA Instead of Just Investing?

How to Open an IRA

Check if You’re Eligible

Opening an IRA is relatively straightforward, but there is an eligibility requirement that you need to be aware of. To open one, you must have earned income. This can come from employment, self-employment, or certain types of alimony. Aside from that, there are no other requirements to open an account, but there are limitations, such as contribution limits and required minimum distributions.

Choosing a Provider

When choosing a provider, there are several important factors to consider, such as fees, investment options, and customer service. As there are many financial institutions that offer IRAs, including banks, brokerage firms, and mutual fund companies, you must pick a reputable provider as they will be handling your money. Thus, it is important to research your options and compare fees so that you get the most out of your investment.

Contributing to an IRA

Once you have chosen a provider and opened an account, you will need to decide how much to contribute. The answer depends on a number of factors, including your age, income, and financial goals. In general, financial experts recommend contributing as much as you can afford, up to the annual contribution limit set by the IRS. For the year 2023, the maximum contribution limit is $6,500 for individuals with traditional or Roth accounts. But this increases to $7,500 if you are aged 50 and above.

Managing Your IRA

Don’t forget to monitor your account, review your investment options, and rebalance your portfolio as needed to make sure your assets are performing up to expectations. You can also make changes to your contributions and investment options as your financial situation changes. It is important to review your account regularly and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that you are on track to meet your retirement goals. You can do this by contacting your provider or if available, through your custodian’s website.

FAQs about IRAs

What Are the Penalties for Early Withdrawal?

 If you withdraw funds before age 59½, you will typically face a 10% penalty in addition to any applicable taxes.  This is an important consideration when it comes to IRAs since this is imposed on most types of accounts, such as traditional and Roth accounts. However, there are some exceptions to these rules, such as for certain qualifying medical or educational expenses.

What Happens to Your IRA When You Die?

The answer depends on a number of factors, including the type of account you have and who you have named as your beneficiary. With traditional accounts, your beneficiary will typically be responsible for paying any taxes owed on the funds they inherit. While in Roth accounts, your beneficiary may be able to inherit the funds tax-free, depending on a number of factors. Similarly, your SEP and precious metals IRA are inherited by your beneficiary when you pass away. However, for more information about the repercussions of your death on your accounts, you can always ask your provider. 

Can You Have Multiple IRAs?

Yes, you can have multiple individual retirement accounts, including both traditional and Roth IRAs. In fact, having multiple accounts can offer some advantages, such as allowing you to diversify your investments and giving you more flexibility when it comes to making withdrawals in retirement. However, keep in mind that the contribution limits apply across all of your accounts, so you won't be able to contribute more than the annual limit in total.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, an IRA is an excellent investment vehicle that can provide you with a comfortable and financially stable retirement. The tax advantages, accessibility, and flexibility offered by these make them an essential component of any long-term investment strategy. It's essential to understand its different types and how to open one that best suits your needs.

If you haven't already made up your mind, we strongly encourage you to consider opening an IRA. It's never too early or too late to start planning for retirement, and an asset of this type can provide a significant headstart on your savings journey. Because of the benefits, an IRA is an excellent way to ensure a comfortable and financially stable retirement.