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I’m ready to invest. What are my options?

You’re determined to have your money grow because you know your future depends on it. Investing isn’t one size fits all, though. How do you know what options are right for you?

Let’s take a look at what’s available. It could make your decision-making easier, and if you have any questions, you can always ask us. There is never a cost to talk about ideas, discuss options or just review your current financial situation. We want you to thoroughly understand what you’re investing in and the pros and cons of each option.

Check your workplace. Find out if your employer offers a 401(k) retirement plan that will match your contributions up to a certain percentage. If so, it makes sense to participate, at least to that matching maximum. It’s like receiving a bonus for doing nothing more than investing money that you likely would have invested on your own. Always take advantage of these “free money” opportunities.

Even if there is no match, it’s still considered a good idea to invest through work. The money is automatically withdrawn from your paycheck and you have higher contribution limits in a 401(k) as opposed to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). However, if your workplace investment options are limited and there is no contribution matching, it might make sense to pursue an IRA option first.

Think traditionally. A traditional IRA allows whatever money you put in to avoid income taxes and grow tax-free until you take distributions. You also might be able to take a tax deduction for your contributions depending on your circumstances and income level. Consult a tax specialist to see if you qualify.

You can make contributions up to age 70-1/2, and each year you can contribute up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you’re age 50 or older) of your taxable income for the year. You can contribute to an IRA anyway you like, setting up a recurring contribution over whatever time frame suits you or funding it in one lump sum before the April 15 tax filing deadline of the following year. Many financial institutions offer IRAs. Consider establishing an IRA with our bank and receive trustworthy advice (we aren’t biased toward one mutual fund or investment choice over another), great service and various investment options to choose from.

You can pull money out of a traditional IRA at any time, and you can avoid the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty before age 59-1/2 if you use the money for certain exceptions, such as education or buying a first home. You will have to start taking distributions after age 70-1/2.

If you end up in a lower tax bracket in retirement, a traditional IRA could be advantageous.

Roth is also advantageous. A Roth IRA’s earnings grow tax-free similar to a traditional IRA, but the money you put into a Roth has already been taxed. That allows you to avoid income tax when you withdraw the money after age 59-1/2. You can contribute to a Roth account your entire life and you never have to take a distribution (although whoever inherits your Roth will).

You can withdraw your Roth contributions at any time without penalty. But you must wait at least five years after starting the Roth before withdrawing any earnings, or be subject to that 10 percent penalty and, perhaps, income taxes.

Both Roth and traditional IRAs can be invested in bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), individual stocks, commodities and mutual funds. You can choose to be an active investor and pick the investments yourself, or we can manage your investments for you, building a portfolio that advances your financial goals and dreams. You often will get more investment options than what 401(k) plans offer.

Children can benefit. Parents or guardians also can set up a custodial IRA for their children with a minimum $1,000 contribution. Parents can invest up to $5,500 per year into the account. If the child has a job, he or she can contribute to the IRA as well, up to the amount earned at the job.

A Roth IRA might be a wiser choice for a child because a minor likely isn’t earning enough to make it out of the lowest tax bracket (10 percent for up to $9,525 earned annually in 2018). In that instance, the child wouldn’t realize the front-end tax benefit from a traditional IRA.

Because the principal amount can be withdrawn at any time for any reason without penalty, that comes in handy for life events such as a first car or college spending money. A minor takes control of the IRA upon turning 18, and there are no bank service fees associated with the IRA until he or she turns 20.

Take control. We can offer you ways to directly invest in the market, and our advisors can help you decide on investments that fit your needs and goals within your tolerance for risk. Generally we aim for a long-term strategy and a diversified portfolio so your wealth can be positioned to take advantage of the good times and weather the bad. But we have the knowledge and experience to support more aggressive approaches if that’s what you desire.

Investing can benefit you greatly when it’s viewed as a long-term journey, and our bank is a full-service resource for you and your family every step of the way to help keep your investing goals on track. We provide trustworthy investment advice, and we always act in your best interest – not ours. You can invest at your pace and we know you’ll appreciate the clear, fair pricing for our services. We also know you’ll enjoy the personal attention that comes with every conversation and that we work closely with you to identify the investment choices to help make your hopes and dreams a reality. Visit one of our knowledgeable professionals today to get started.

Investments are not FDIC insured, not bank guaranteed and may lose value.

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