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Maximize the Value of Your IRA

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) continue to be one of the most powerful ways to accumulate funds for a financially secure retirement for a multitude of reasons. The keys to maximizing the ultimate value of your IRA are simple – contribute as much as you can, contribute as early as you can and earn as much as you can. Here are four ways to put those keys to work.

Make Contributions
Everyone with earned income (wages) is eligible to contribute up to $5000 to an IRA for 2012. You can contribute to a regular IRA regardless of your income. It may be tax-deductible if you are not a participant in a company sponsored plan or if your 2012 adjusted income is below certain levels ($58,000 for those filing single tax returns and $92,000 for those filing jointly). Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but can be made by those with 2012 adjusted gross income up to $110,000 (single) or $173,000 (filing jointly).

Take Advantage of the Catch-up Provision
For the past several years, individuals age 50 and above have been eligible to contribute extra amounts to their IRAs. For 2012, those individuals can contribute an extra $1000 to their IRAs. For someone that turned age 50 in 2012, and that makes an extra $1,000 for 15 years, from 2012 until they retire at age 65, the extra accumulation would be over $25,000, assuming they earned 7% on their funds.

Make Contributions Early
The earlier you make contributions, the earlier your money begins earning on a tax-deferred basis. The latest you can make 2011 contributions is April 16, 2012 (or the extended due date of your tax return). The earliest you can make 2012 contributions is January 1, 2012. By making your contribution early, you are more likely to make an extra contribution over your working career and it adds up. For someone age 30, it can mean an extra $29,004 (assuming an earnings rate of 6%). For a 45 year old, the extra funds could amount to over $12,000.

Invest Your IRA Wisely
Your IRA is, or will become, a significant part of your net worth. How it is invested deserves the same attention you give your other investments. Be sure to include your IRA in your overall investment planning and apply the same principles of asset allocation, diversification and risk tolerance. Because the funds in your IRA will remain there for extended periods of time, you should take a long term approach with how the funds are invested. If you choose a lower risk fixed income approach, consider longer term CDs instead of shorter-term savings accounts or money market funds. If you are considering equity investments, remember these funds will have many years to grow and choose wisely.

FSB Warner Financial: Member SIPC. Investment and Insurance Products: Not FDIC Insured • No Bank Guarantee • May Lose Value