Nontraditional Options Let IRA Investors Crank Up the Risk

You can invest your retirement savings in everything from cryptocurrency to penny stocks. But that doesn’t mean you should.

Image of a man on a bending limb reaching for some leaves
(Image credit: Illustration by Laura Liedo)

Most retirement savers are determined to keep their investments simple. They stash most of their savings in low-cost index funds or in target-date funds, which are portfolios of diversified funds that become more conservative as you approach retirement. This strategy has served savers well in recent years: The S&P 500 index was up 36% for the past year and 18% annualized for the past five years (through September 10).

But if you’ve been following the news, you may be wondering if that’s all there is. Bitcoin has generated enormous returns for people who invested in the cryptocurrency years ago (or even months ago). The white-hot housing market has priced out many home buyers, leading to increased demand for rental properties. Some investors have profited by buying and selling so-called meme stocks, such as GameStop and AMC. And there’s always the temptation to make a long-term bet on an obscure company that could turn out to be the next Amazon.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.