Is a Traditional IRA Better Than a 401k?

If you’re saving for retirement, a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) could help. Contributions may be tax deductible; however, income tax will apply to investment earnings when withdrawing them in retirement.

IRAs may be an attractive retirement saving vehicle for high earners not covered by workplace retirement plans. They offer several advantages that could prove helpful:

Tax-deferred growth

Traditional IRAs allow your growth (capital gains and dividends) to remain tax-deferred until you withdraw them, while contributions can also be deducted from income taxes if applicable; however, this deduction could be reduced or eliminated entirely if covered by an employer-provided workplace retirement plan.

Traditional IRAs allow investors to diversify their assets with stocks, mutual funds and certificates of deposit – as well as access to target date funds that automatically manage your portfolio as you move closer to retirement.

Traditional IRAs offer another advantage by allowing early withdrawals without incurring penalties before age 59 1/2, enabling you to use funds for expenses like homebuying, medical costs or higher education payments without incurring penalties. There may be restrictions regarding life insurance contracts or collectibles being removed from an IRA account before withdrawing funds early.

Tax-free withdrawals

IRAs enable you to save for retirement while postponing taxes until later on in life. In theory, this should mean lower tax rates when it comes time to withdraw the investments in retirement than you would have owed without one. Both traditional and Roth IRAs can help savers achieve financial security; which one best suits their particular tax circumstances may depend on personal circumstance.

Traditional IRA investors receive a tax break on annual contributions; however, once they begin withdrawing funds in retirement they must pay income taxes on any earnings which have gone untaxed for years. Depending on one’s tax bracket this could prove devastatingly financially burdensome for retirees.

However, you are eligible to withdraw IRA funds without incurring penalties under certain circumstances. For instance, these funds could be used for purchasing a home, paying education expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), or covering unreimbursed medical costs that surpass 7.5% of AGI. Please be aware that there may be restrictions placed by the IRS on how and when these funds can be withdrawn.

Investment options

Traditional IRAs allow you to invest in various investments and can even be converted to employer-sponsored retirement plans or Roth IRAs, depending on the tax ramifications. When making decisions related to rolling over an IRA, always consult a financial advisor first before taking action.

Traditional IRA investors can select from an array of investments, such as mutual funds and stocks, as well as alternative assets like real estate and private equity. There are various online brokerage firms and banks offering IRA accounts, providing investors with more investment choices to choose from.

If you want to diversify your retirement portfolio, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a great way to do it. Your IRA allows you to invest in small-cap stocks or emerging foreign markets at low fees through services like Betterment; in addition, these services also offer valuable features such as tax loss harvesting and automatic rebalancing for further convenience.


With traditional IRAs, you can take advantage of tax-deferred growth while having access to an extensive range of investment options. Furthermore, these accounts enable you to consolidate other qualified accounts into one location. Contributions may even be eligible for tax deduction if both you and your spouse already participate in workplace retirement savings plans; just make sure that any contributions that do not qualify do not get made.

Selecting the ideal traditional IRA will depend upon your investing style and needs, including fees and features such as whether or not you prefer investing in stocks or mutual funds. NerdWallet’s ratings of online brokers and robo-advisors can assist in making an informed decision; their scores take into account factors like account fees/minimums/investment selection/customer service capabilities/mobile app capabilities as well as professional advice before reaching a decision about opening such an account. For best results always consult a professional before opening one!

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