Are ETFs Good For a Roth IRA?

Are ETFs good for a Roth IRA

Roth individual retirement accounts (IRAs) can be an excellent place to store long-term savings, offering tax benefits as well as multiple investment choices.

For an IRA, the best ETFs tend to be low-cost and diverse funds that cover U.S. stocks, bonds and global investing.


Not only should an investor carefully consider their financial goals, risk tolerance and time frame for retiring funds in retirement; but also consider what type of assets to hold within their investment accounts – mutual funds and ETFs are popular examples that could diversify a portfolio effectively.

An ETF, or exchange-traded fund, is an exchange-traded fund which holds various assets that can be traded anytime during market hours. Although ETFs resemble mutual funds in appearance, their fees tend to be significantly lower due to tracking or mimicking market indexes more effectively and needing less management than active managed funds.

Do-it-yourself investors who choose ETFs must ensure they research both its expense ratio and historical performance to select one that meets their investment strategy. For example, Roth IRA holders might opt for mid-cap ETFs like VO that offer exposure to growth companies between small- and large-cap stocks – making them attractive investments for younger and risk-tolerant investors.


ETFs may offer greater tax efficiency than mutual funds. With lower turnover and shareholder actions being isolated from tax implications, ETFs tend to keep taxes low. This allows investors to maximize long-term returns. But while ETFs may be tax efficient investments, you still must pay capital gains taxes upon selling an ETF.

Consider your investment goals and risk tolerance when selecting an ETF for your Roth IRA. Young investors with high risk tolerance might prefer growth ETFs that produce dividends and capital gains; you could hold these types of funds in both accounts; however, those producing higher taxes such as bond and dividend ETFs should be placed inside a Roth IRA for optimal tax savings.

ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) are marketable securities that track an index, commodity, bonds or basket of assets and trade on the stock exchange throughout the day, similar to a common stock. ETFs offer several advantages for investors and investment professionals alike including wide ranging strategies, low costs and tax efficiency.

Tax-Free Withdrawals

Roth IRAs provide an ideal home for growth-focused ETFs since investors don’t pay taxes until withdrawing funds. When considering potential ETFs, compare their expense ratio against that of similar categories – those with lower expense ratios tend to be more cost-effective investments.

An effective portfolio must contain a diverse assortment of assets, from bonds and cash to money markets or certificates of deposit, but including these slow-growing investments in your Roth IRA may not be the most cost-effective strategy; their low returns might not justify additional taxes during retirement.

Add bond ETFs to your portfolio for a diversified approach, searching for low-cost ETFs with short, medium, or long durations to match your investing horizon. Municipal bond ETFs that generate interest income that’s fully or partially exempt from federal taxes provide another means of diversifying while still keeping more profits in your pocket.


An ETF-based Roth IRA gives investors more choices when opening an IRA compared to traditional or company sponsored 401(k) plans, which may only offer limited selection.

One popular retirement fund option is FDKLX’s target-date retirement fund, which offers a ready-made portfolio that automatically adjusts over time to achieve optimal stock/bond allocation. When young investors focus on growth rather than income, typically 90% stocks/10% bonds is enough; as you near retirement age and want less risk but steady income instead, gradually more bonds will be held by this fund to lower risk and provide steadier income streams.

Mid-cap ETFs such as VVO offer another great investment option, providing access to companies ranging in market cap between small and large caps. Furthermore, this ETF boasts an extremely low expense ratio of just 0.04% making it suitable for any Roth IRA portfolio.

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