There’s no perfect age to start saving for retirement. Conventional wisdom is always that the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be. You’ve probably heard it ad nauseam before. However, not all of us start saving when we turn 18. Even if our first job has a 401k, we don’t always start investing in it. Debt and other life priorities can eat up our paychecks before we ever get around to investing. You may even be asking yourself if you’re too old to start an IRA.
Let’s demystify what it’s like to start investing later in life. If you’re in the middle of your career and wondering, we’ll cover how to play catchup.
What is an IRA?
An IRA, or individual retirement account, is a personal investment account. There are two types of IRAs; Roth and Traditional.
A Roth IRA lets you invest post-tax income. Because you paid tax on this money already, when you withdraw it after retirement there are generally no taxes or penalties when you withdraw from after age 59 ½.
A traditional IRA is different from a Roth. It lets you invest pre-tax income or post-tax income. You’ll then get taxed at your current income rate when you withdraw the funds after age 59 ½.
Is it Too Late to Start an IRA?
The short answer is NO. The sooner you start investing for your future, the better. But there’s never a date where it becomes too late for you to start saving for retirement. In fact, here are 4 reasons it’s not too late to consider an IRA:
When a Roth IRA Doesn’t Make Sense
Now, there are some unique instances when a Roth IRA doesn’t make sense. They have to do with how much you earn.
If you’re already in one of the highest tax brackets, your tax rate when you retire may go down. Because of how Roth IRA and traditional IRAs are structured, how you pay taxes changes. If you think your earning potential will go down later in life, it’s smarter to use a traditional IRA than a Roth IRA.
That’s because Roth IRAs are for post-tax income. If you’re paying a lot in taxes right now, it makes sense to defer some of them until later in life when your tax bracket lowers.
All this may be a moot point though depending on your total take home pay. If you earn more than $139,000 per year, you’re not allowed to use a Roth IRA.
So before you sign up for a retirement account, determine what your income cutoffs.
Whatever your investment plan, it’s never too late to get started. A Roth IRA is one of the most popular investment vehicles for saving for retirement.
Even if you’re late to saving, a Roth IRA still makes sense. As long as you’re still working and have income potential, put some away! Let compound interest work for the years you still have until retirement.