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An IRA Owner's Manual

This tutorial explains the basics of IRAs and how to get the most out of them.


Even if you're saving with a 401(k) or other employer-based account, an individual retirement account should be an integral part of your retirement plan. The reason: Your earnings accumulate inside an IRA tax free, supercharging the already powerful effect of compound interest.

The biggest decision you'll face these days is not whether to open an IRA, but rather what type of IRA to go with -- the more traditional tax-deductible IRA or the Roth IRA, which lets you take tax-free withdrawals in retirement.

This tutorial explains the basics of each, provides the tools to help you make the right decisions and describes the techniques needed to keep your IRA running smoothly.

  • Cashing Out Early
    Generally you'll pay tax penalties for draining your IRA early, but there are exceptions.