Author - Jim Blankenship, CFP®, EA

1
Understand The Basics of An IRA
2
Paying For Your Higher Education
3
Mutual Funds vs. 529 Account For Your College Savings?
4
Where Should You Establish Your IRA?

Understand The Basics of An IRA

To start off, let’s talk about the basics of IRAs.  The following information holds true for both traditional IRA (TIRA) and Roth IRA (RIRA) plans.

IRA accounts can be held at a variety of institutions, from banks and credit unions, to brokerages and insurance companies.  Essentially, if it is a financial institution, quite likely there is an IRA offering.  Typically, an account is established by filling out an application, identifying yourself by name, address, and social security number.  You’ll be asked to name a beneficiary – a decision not to be taken lightly, but we’ll get to that issue a …

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Paying For Your Higher Education

Another way to pull funds from an IRA or a qualified retirement plan (401(k), 403(b), 457, etc.) without having to pay the 10% penalty is to use those funds for Qualified Higher Education Expenses (QHEE).  This comes up quite often, as parents are faced with the issues surrounding the dueling requirements of retirement saving and paying for college for the young ‘uns.

We’ve been talking about the components of Internal Revenue Code Section 72, and specifically here we’re talking about §72(t)(2)(E).  In this portion of the code, the provision is made for a taxpayer qualified retirement plan or IRA owner …

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Mutual Funds vs. 529 Account For Your College Savings?

Saving for college is a tough job – on par with saving for retirement, and often in direct conflict with that goal as well. Adding to the difficulty of the task is the fact that there are so many different options out there (in terms of investment vehicles) that really muddy the waters for the individual college saver.

One question that comes up very often is whether it is just as effective to utilize tax-effficient mutual funds instead of 529 plans as we save for college. The idea is that the mutual fund can generate a higher overall return than …

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Where Should You Establish Your IRA?

Establishing and contributing to an IRA (Traditional or Roth) is pretty simple and straightforward. There is a wide variety of institutions that offer IRA accounts:  banks, savings and loans, credit unions, insurance companies, mutual fund companies, and brokerages.  There are pros and cons to each type of institution, as we’ll list below.  These alternatives represent the major options for opening your IRA, in no particular order.

Banks, Savings and Loans & Credit Unions
Pros: Banks are well-known as some of the most stable and conservative institutions in our financial industry.  For many folks, this is an assurance that there is
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