Debunking Common Myths About IRAs

Posted by Nick Niesen on November 8th, 2010

According to a recent "Retirement Trends" survey by Fidelity Investments, 96 percent of Americans saving for retirement don't know the current contribution limit for an individual retirement account, with some guessing as low as $1,000. The reality is that for tax year 2005, IRA contribution limits increase to $4,000 -- up from $3,000 in 2004.

When it comes to knowing the facts about retirement, misperceptions can lead to missed opportunities. Today's workers will face rising health care costs when they retire, as well as declining pension benefits and a higher cost of living. That's why it's important to save as much as possible, and as early as possible, in tax-advantaged accounts like IRAs.

Knowing the facts can help dispel common myths that may keep some investors from making the smart move of saving in an IRA.

* Myth No. 1: My 401(k) savings should be enough.

Nearly one-third of Americans in their prime savings years who have not yet opened an IRA account think their 401(k) savings will be sufficient for retirement, according to the Retirement Trends survey. However, Fidelity estimates that retirees will need approximately 80 percent to 100 percent of their pre-retirement income to live comfortably. Using an IRA now to supplement workplace programs can help investors make sure their savings will continue to grow and last throughout retirement.

* Myth No. 2: I have to come up with thousands of dollars all at once to open an IRA.

For the one in four non-IRA owners surveyed who say they can't afford the initial investment required to open an IRA, opportunities to save even more for retirement may be daunting. But getting started without an initial lump sum is as easy as setting up automatic monthly payments through a Fidelity SimpleStart IRA.

* Myth No. 3: IRAs are for older people with lots of money to save.

The truth is that younger investors could benefit the most by starting to save early because they have time on their side. Nearly two-thirds of young adults have started to save for retirement before age 30, according to the Retirement Trends survey. That's good news; starting to save as early as possible is one of the best ways to prepare for the future.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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