Financial Fundamentals Blog

Types of IRAs: Which One Is Best For You

Woman sitting in front of their laptop reviewing their IRA options


We all have ideas of what we want our retirement to look like. We have the ideal picture of where we want to be, what we want to do, and what we want to see. But you need to make sure you’re prepared for those things.


One way to save for your retirement goals is with an individual retirement account (IRA). There are several types of IRAs and each has its own rules. Worried it’s too late to start an IRA? It’s not! IRAs can be started at any age, allowing you to reap the benefits whether you’re in your 20s or 40s.


Let’s explore the different types of IRAs so you can make the best decision for you and your family.


What Is an IRA and Why Are They Important?

First, an IRA is a long-term savings account that provides tax advantages. It’s a good option for those who are unable to have a retirement plan such as a 401(k) through their employer, but anyone who has earned income can open an IRA, even if they have a 401(k).


Now you may be wondering why IRAs are important, especially if you already have a 401(k). The answer? Taxes. The money you put in your IRA—including interest, capital gains, and dividends—compounds each year without taxes picking away at it.


You can also avoid taxes on the money you initially put into your IRA plan or your withdrawals during retirement, depending on the type of IRA you choose. However, there’s a limit to how much can be contributed to your IRA each year.


Another benefit of IRAs is that you control them. The account is under your name and control, so if you decide to change jobs, your IRA isn’t affected. 


Types of IRAs

There are several types of IRAs, each with its own benefits.


Traditional IRA

A traditional IRA is one of the most popular retirement accounts because of the tax benefits it offers. With a traditional IRA, you contribute pre-tax dollars from your paycheck to the account, and your funds will continue to grow until you choose to make withdrawals. Contributions are generally tax-deductible and may be claimed as a deduction on your income taxes. Taxes on your contributions aren’t taken out until you make withdrawals, which can be done at age 59½ or later.


Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is the other most popular retirement account. With a Roth IRA, you contribute after-tax dollars from your paycheck to the account. The main benefit of this type of IRA is that your contributions and earnings on your contributions can continue to grow tax-free and be withdrawn tax-free after you reach the minimum withdrawal age of 59½. However, unlike traditional IRAs, contributions can’t be claimed as a deduction on your income taxes.



A simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA is a type of traditional IRA that an employer can establish. The funds grow tax-free but are taxed when withdrawn.


With a SEP IRA, the employer makes contributions to eligible employees’ plans and is allowed a tax deduction for the contributions. However, employees aren’t allowed to contribute to this type of IRA through their salaries. SEP IRAs are ideal for small-business owners who don’t want the initial startup and operating costs of conventional 401(k) plans. 



A savings incentive match plan for employees (SIMPLE) IRA is an alternative to the 401(k). This is ideal for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees or self-employed individuals. Unlike SEP IRAs, employees can contribute to this IRA through salary deferral. Generally, employers are required to contribute either a 3 percent match of the employee’s contribution or a 2 percent fixed contribution. 


Spousal IRA

This IRA is ideal for married individuals when one member of the couple isn’t working or brings in a very low income. This type of IRA is opened in the non-working spouse’s name and can be funded from either spouse’s earnings.


Self-Directed IRA

This is either a traditional or Roth IRA, but it offers more options with the assets in the account, such as real estate, gold, and privately held companies. While this type of IRA is beneficial because of potentially higher returns, it’s ideal for experienced investors who are aware of the risks and want to access other investments such as real estate.


It’s Never Too Late—Get Started with Your IRA Today

It’s never too late to start your IRA. Wondering how and where to get started? 7 17 Credit Union has plenty of resources to help! Explore your IRA options at 7 17 Credit Union today.