Roth IRA Movement – What is It?

Roth IRA movementI recently read the story from a fellow blogger, Jeff at Good Financial Cents, who was asked to speak about money and investing at his college alma mater.

When he polled the class to see who had heard of a Roth IRA, not a single person raised their hand.

Not one person out of 50 college seniors.

He didn’t even ask what makes a Roth IRA better than a traditional IRA, or why might it be more beneficial?

Jeff was frustrated and concerned that the state of financial literacy for young people might have slipped to an all time low.

So he decided to start the #RothIRAMovement.

I’m not quite sure what it is besides a unified day of awareness, where more than 130 bloggers will all post about the Roth IRA.

At Married (with Debt), I don’t get too deep into math and numbers and investing.

I believe investing is something you do once you are debt free.

I’m not impressed that you earned 40 dollars in dividends while spending 400 dollars on interest on your credit cards.

Why the Roth IRA?

So the consensus from the people seems to be that the Roth IRA is better. Why?

The government provides various tax benefits to encourage retirement savings. IRAs are one of them.

The Roth IRA allows you to pay your taxes on your retirement savings now, and withdraw your savings and earnings tax free when you retire. This is opposed to a traditional IRA, where the money is deposited tax free, and taxes are paid upon withdrawal.

All my friends who are financial advisors agree that if there was one tool you should be familiar with, it’s the Roth IRA. They all recommend it wholeheartedly.

Why Did I Join the Movement?

First off, I didn’t agree to join the #RothIRAMovement to provide another Roth Vs. Traditional article. That topic has been beaten to death online.

I joined to use it as an opportunity to discuss on the most important topics in America – financial literacy.

We teach our kids how to balance chemical equations, but not about revolving debt and interest. We allow them to learn things the hard way.

Money, and more importantly, the time you have to trade to get money, is too important to allow our kids to miss out. We should educate and prepare them to hit the ground running when they graduate college or enter adulthood.

In many ways massive debt reflects a portion of your life that refuses to grow up. I suppose it’s the adult thing to do to live on less than you earn and save a portion of every paycheck towards retirement. It’s the mature thing to do to not live paycheck to paycheck without an emergency fund, completely vulnerable to unemployment.

As I said, the #RothIRAMovement is an opportunity to talk about why young people need to pay attention to their money and work to make sure they are fully in charge.

We owe it to our neighbors to take care of ourselves and be self-reliant. We can’t continue to think that the government is going to take care of us, or that our kids will figure out a magical way to take care of a rapidly aging population, especially when not one in a roomful of fifty had heard of a Roth IRA.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK: Is the Roth IRA the one investing tool out there if you could only pick one? Should parents do more to educate their kids on personal finance?

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12 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing on Roth IRA in such a simplified way. I expect more articles from you on Roth IRA and traditional IRA.

  2. I’ve been wondering about Roth IRAs a lot lately. When the interest rate on a Roth is less than the interest rate on a savings account (and I don’t need a tax break), why put my money in a Roth? Hopefully you’ll have the answer! :)
    Élan recently posted..Start Something That MattersMy Profile

    • I think the best way to look at it is that the Roth IRA doesn’t have a fixed interest rate, rather your investment earnings come from the gains of the things you choose to invest in. So that means a Roth could give you negative earnings or losses. Your best bet is to save a certain percentage of your money in a safe, guaranteed money market account then have a portion that you can afford to lose, and invest with that.

      Hope that makes sense. Thanks for reading!

  3. I’m glad you took this article away from the old Roth/Traditional IRA debate. YES, parents need to do a better job of educating their children about finances. I’m the daughter of a CPA, so I got the message loud and clear growing up. My husband, on the other hand, was taught NOTHING about finances (case in point: his older brother had to declare bankruptcy before his 25th birthday). It’s been me – and the real world – that’s had to educate him as an adult.
    Elizabeth@ Broke Professionals recently posted..Hey, Jealousy: A Case Of Professional EnvyMy Profile

    • Yes – I didn’t want to take the easy way out and say “this is a Roth, this is not.” Very cool that you had such a great financial education. To me, that’s worth more than most college classes.

  4. that’s such a positive move
    i like it when people support each other to get their demands done
    keep it up :)

  5. Interesesting timing John! My employer canceled the retirement plan they offered due to low enrollment. I don’t have much saved for retirement and I’ve been weighing my options. I thought about cashing it out to pay debt but my gut said a Roth IRA was better. I’m thinking of going wth ING since they don’t have a minimum and I can open a savings option first and then add a stocks option. I’m new to investing but it’s been on my mind for awhile. I’ll only be doing a little since I’m more focused on paying off debt.

  6. I really like the angle you took with your post on the Roth IRA movement. You are correct. Many high school and even college curriculums do a poor job at preparing young folks for real life.

    Now that I am finally getting around to reading a bunch of these Roth IRA posts, I really wish I would have joined the movement. It won’t be too late if I post next week, right?
    Matt @ RamblingFever Money recently posted..Dreaming About Winning a Half Billion DollarsMy Profile

  7. If we could only get those students to read personal finance blogs!!!

    Sorry I haven’t been around much–been sick, but am feeling a good deal better. Now I am just working on getting my energy back.
    Amanda L Grossman recently posted..Consumers are Sale-Desensitized, and for Good ReasonMy Profile

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