Roth IRA vs. Traditional IRA: Which Is Better?

What’s The Difference?millennials

Many adults can’t even answer this question!

This post comes directly from a comment left by a reader in a previous article. That person wanted me to explain the difference between a Roth IRA and Traditional IRA, as well as explain how to open one, where to open one, and how much to contribute to one.

All of those questions would make for an extremely lengthy article. Instead, I’ll be breaking it into a few posts. Today, I’m going to just start by explaining the difference between the two. This is really easy for me to answer and may seem obvious for those who know about them. But for many college students (and adults for that matter), retirement accounts are a topic everyone seems to have questions about.

Retirement! Only 40+ years awayRetirement beach writing

I’ve indirectly explained the significance of starting to save for retirement at a young age in another article on compound interest. If you haven’t seen that, it might help to start there. Click HERE to read all about compound interest.

I will end up explaining more in-depth the importance of saving for retirement in your 20’s in another article. It’s really just important to start a ground zero if you will, and explain what the benefits and cons to these accounts are.

What is an IRA?

IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account. Meaning that you, the owner of the account, are solely contributing to the account and receive no contributions (help) from an employer. IRA’s are in contrast to a 401(k) retirement account that an employer typically provides where they contribute money in addition to what you contribute. I will explain more about 401(k)’s in the future.

Why Would I Need One If I Will Have a 401(k) From My Work?

This also seems to be a question that pops up a lot. The quick answer to this is so you can save additional funds for retirement outside your employer and possibly get better returns on the money you invest. In a lot of employer given 401(k) plans, there is a limited number of investments you can choose from. Employers set it up for employees to select from a smaller number of funds they have chosen. They do this to reduce costs on their end and also provide lower fund fees for you. Because this article isn’t about 401(k)’s, that’s all I’ll say about them in this post. If you want to know more, definitely research it or drop me a comment below!

Traditional IRA’s

An IRA is an account set up at a financial institution that allows an individual to save for retirement with tax-free growth or on a tax-deferred basis. Money put into an IRA is from your own income after taxes. This money you’re putting in is on a post tax basis, meaning it is income that has already been taxed just like all your other money. This is in contrast to a 401(k) that allows you to put money into it before taxes are taken out.

With a Traditional IRA, you make contributions with money you may be able to deduct on your tax return. Any earnings potentially grow tax-deferred until you withdraw them in retirement. All the money you make on your investments will not be taxed up until when you retire. Traditional IRA contributions are also tax-deductible on your tax returns for the year you put money in. So you’ll end up getting some savings on your taxes for doing this. To learn more about this, click HERE.

PROS:

-Tax deferred earnings you won’t pay until you take money out during retirement

-Tax deductible on your taxes each year you contribute to the account

-Contribute $5,500 a year to one of these bad boys, regardless if you’re rich or poor

CONS:

-You’ll end up paying taxes at the end when you retire which will definitely decrease your money for retirement

ROTH IRA’s

These are great for young people. Here’s why.

With a Roth IRA, you make contributions with money on which you’ve already paid taxes. Your money can then potentially grow tax-free, with tax-free withdrawals in retirement, provided that certain conditions are met.

What this means for you is that just like a normal IRA, you contribute money after taxes to the account. But when you withdrawal during retirement, there is NO TAXES. NONE. You keep all the money.

No taxes! What’s the catch?

The catch is you have to meet certain income requirements. You have to make less than less than $132,000 a year if you’re single (it’s higher for married couples filing taxes together). This is why they’re so great for young people. Early in your career, it is doubtful you’ll be making over $100,000 a year. Where as later in your career, it is possible that you may not qualify for one of these if you’re making the big bucks. Which YoungMoney really hopes you do.

PROS:

– Tax free withdrawals

-Contribute $5,500 a year to one of these, but only if you’re making less than 132k a year

-After five years, up to $10,000 of earnings can be withdrawn penalty-free to cover first-time homebuyer expenses

CONS:

-Money put into these are NOT deductible on your income taxes

-Have to make less than 132k a year to be eligible

Which One Is For Me?

There are pros and cons to both as you can see. But at a young age, many experts recommend contributing to a Roth, especially if you expect to not qualify for it later on. You can always switch to making an IRA account later on. Also to keep in mind is you can contribute to both if you like. However, that $5,500 annual contribution limit from the IRS isn’t per account. It is in total. Meaning you can only contribute 5,500 to any IRA in one given year. If you put 5,500 in a Roth one year, you’re maxed out and can’t contribute to a regular IRA that year.

I can’t tell you which is for you, but if you’re interested in reading more about them here is more info from Fidelity. Click HERE.

Hope That Helps!

Hope that gives you a better understanding of them. If you have any questions, comment section is below and you can comment anonymously.

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See you next week!

-Matt Dalton

Compound Interest: The Stuff Of Savings Dreams

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How Do People Build Wealth?

There is really only a few options.

  1. Inherit money! Why are you reading this website? Get back to maxin’, relaxin’, and livin’ large! You belong on East Egg and probably had your father give you a small loan of a million dollars to start out. Dope, dude!
  2. Zuckerberg somebody! Get out there and steal someone else’s idea and profit on that sh*t. No mercy.
  3. Come up with a billion dollar idea! Get your Elon Musk on. This is probably the fastest way to make a huge amount of money. You already knew this.
  4. Become a really smart investor. This also takes time. Warren Buffett didn’t just wake up one day to find he had billions in the bank. He makes smart picks, no doubt. But don’t think he’s always beating the market. The only person who can do that is someone with insider trading knowledge.
  5. Invest Money & Let It Grow. This is how most of us do it.

Sorry to bum you out if you were hoping I had an answer to making you wealthy through the first 4 options. If I did, I’d tell ya.

The truth is that most people build wealthy slowly and overtime. That’s how people save for retirement. They invest money as they go and eventually have a sizeable nest egg to retire on.

UNLESS, of course, you don’t invest enough or do so at a young age. Plenty of people can catch up if they work at it. But honestly, no matter how much you think you could catch up later on, there is NO advantage to building wealth better than TIME. The more you have of it, the more wealthy you’ll be based on how much you put in.

Now, you’ve most likely heard this before. That saving money while you’re young is really important. But hey, it’s tough to save money when you’re young. You don’t have as much of it right now. But it’s okay, even a little bit will make a huge difference.

What Is Compound Interest?

Investopedia defines it as, “Compound interest is interest calculated on the initial principle and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods of a deposit or loan.”

Okay, so what does that really mean? It means that when you invest money in the stock market, a mutual fund, a bond, a savings account, whatever…you’ll be paid in interest for investing your money. Stocks go up, you’re making money. Duh, you know this.

BUT, here is what it really means for you. Let’s say you invest $100 in your savings account. The bank pays you 5% interest. (We can only dream, but it works for this example)

After 1 year, you now have $105. ($100 you invested plus the $5 they paid you in interest for the year)

Now is when you start making MONEY ON YOUR MONEY. This is the sh*t if you’re into finance.

After 2 years, you now have $110.25. Wait, shouldn’t I have only $110 if they pay me $5 every year? NOPE. They paid you interest money on the $5 you earned last year too. So lets calculate that. $105 * 5% is $5.25. Add that together to get $110.25. You made 25 cents on the interest money they paid you from year one. Interest on your interest! Get it?

How Huge A Deal This Is

Here is an example of someone saving money and investing in the stock market that assumes a 7% return. (From BusinessInsider)

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Damn, Chris. You’re a millionaire now. You’re all all-star. Get your game on, go play.

So what happened here? Chris invested way earlier than the other two as you can see. This is what I was talking about in regards to time being on your side while you’re young. Compound interest doesn’t make a huge difference until around 40-50 years old for him compared to the others. But after 50, he skyrockets away from those other shmucks. This is because compound interest begins to snowball as you get older.

The Rule Of 72

There is a rule that says to find the number of years required to double your money at a given interest rate, you just divide the interest rate into 72. Let’s try it with Chris’s presumed 7% return. 72/7 =10.29. This means that every 10.29 years, he doubles the total amount of money in his account.

So if he is starting 10 years before anyone else…he doubles his money 1 more time than anyone else. This is where the ending of retirement gives you HUGE gains. Just by starting 10 years earlier, he has the chance to double his money once more before retirement. That is why he has roughly double what Bill has. Chris roughly got to Bill’s number 10 years before he did. Therefore, he doubled his money once more by the time they retired. Instead of 500k, he has over a million. One more time…Damn, Chris. Back at it again with that compound interest.

Do you see how big of a difference it can make to start early? Even small contributions earlier on makes the difference in how much you’ll have later on. And this assumed Chris ONLY had a 7% return. The AVERAGE return of the stock market from 1928 to 2014 was 10%.

How big of a difference would 10% make for Chris? He would have $2.8 Million.

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What if he bumped up his savings to 10k a year instead of just 5k? $5.6 Million

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Imagine The Possibilities!

This is how compound interest works and how people really build wealth. They invest wisely and save as much as they can. And they do it earlier than later.

THE PROBLEM

People in the United States don’t realize this. They push this off until later in life when they think they’ll be making more money and have more to save for retirement. But later in life you’ll probably have a significant other…then a spouse…then some kids. There is always an excuse for not saving. Which is why older generations getting ready to retire are in CRISIS.

Here are some stats to scare you. (Found here.)

  • 45% of Americans have saved nothing for retirement, including 40% of Baby Boomers.
  • 38% don’t actively save for retirement at all.
  • 20% of Americans tap into their 401(k) assets early, either through a loan or withdrawal.
  • 80% of Americans between the ages of 30 and 54 believe they will not have enough saved for retirement.
  • 36% of American adults over 65 are completely dependent on Social Security.
  • 63% are dependent (but not necessarily completely reliant) on Social Security, relatives, friends, or charity at age 65.
  • Social Security is running out of money, and will only be able to cover 77% of promised benefits beginning in 2034.

All those dreams of traveling the world in retirement? Consider them gone if you don’t seriously start thinking about this. There will be millions of American’s who will be just scraping by in their old age. It’s sad and it shouldn’t be that way.

But the reality is no one cares more about you than you. So do yourself a favor and begin saving as young as possible.

The Great News

You’re super smart. Yep. You are. You obviously care about this enough to read this site or have done some digging on your own. You can set yourself up and benefit from the knowledge others don’t have. Start thinking about saving!

In a future article, I’ll tell you where to do it and how to do it.

Thanks for reading! Subscribe to my email list! I’m basing how often I write on the subscribers I get. If you enjoy my content, please help me out and let me know you do. Just joining my email list is all I need to know you’re enjoy the posts!

Until next time!

Matt Dalton