How far ahead have you actually planned for your retirement?  If you are searching high and low for that answer, it may be time to start thinking about ways to start that planning.  With retirement looming over all of our heads, the clock is counting down the days where we all need to start thinking a few steps ahead than we currently are for our future monetary situation.  While the numbers may be skewed a bit and vary between sources, it is estimated that millions of US households don't have any type of retirement plan in place.  Are you in that category? If you are new to the retirement world, let's start by breaking it down.  What is does IRA stand for?  An IRA is also known as an Individual Retirement Account, or in other words, broken down very simply, a way to save up money for when you decide to finally retire.  Keep in mind that there are quite a few different IRA's to consider.

  401K's, savings accounts,  and investment options are just a few that top the list.   You can invest in an IRA as an individual or see if your employer offers up and type of resources to help you in your savings planning.   It's also extremely important to note that there are many options to choose from, but it is up to you to fully decide and understand which IRA option is going to work best for you and your future financial goals. There are some advantages and disadvantages to having an IRA.  Depending on what IRA resources you decide to start investing in, one of the biggest advantages could be that the money that you put into your IRA account is tax-deferred.  To break it down - what that actually means is that you don't have to pay any taxes on the money that you are saving until you actually withdraw that money at a later date.  It basically is a postponement of the taxes owed.  Again, this isn't an option for all types of IRA's!  Do your research to see if this is an option for one that you may be considering.  Another great benefit that can happen as well is that your money grows tax-free while it is sitting in your IRA account.  Who doesn't like free money?! While there are several advantages to take note of, there are accompanying disadvantages that can occur as well.   

 A disadvantage of having certain IRAs is that there are penalties that are imposed if you have to withdraw the money earlier then before you turn age 59 1/2.  The amount of that penalty?  A whopping 10% fee. Many people wonder how much money they should start saving for their retirement years.  There is no magic answer or crystal ball for that question.  The amount varies depending on what that person will need to live and thrive during their years of retirement.  Depending on who you ask and what research you may find, the recommended amount of savings to have by the time you retire varies drastically.  Some experts say a minimum of 10%, while others say it should be more.  Only you know the true answer to this and how you want to spend your retirement years. Start looking ahead and planning now for your future and your retirement years. Educate yourself on the different IRA options available and choose one that best suits you and your financial needs.