Happy Roth IRA Day!

No horns and silly hats, just straight-up financial education

What, you missed it? Sure, it’s not as widely celebrated as Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day (seriously) or Bunsen Burner Day, but these things take time.

A Roth IRA, as everyone knows, is and individual retirement account in which a person can set aside after-tax income (that’s key) up to a specified amount each year. Earnings on the account are tax-free, and tax-free withdrawals may be made after age 591/2.

Or does everyone know?

“It all started a few weeks ago when I was asked to speak at my alma mater,” writes Jeff Rose, the certified financial planner and blogger behind Roth IRA Day, when describing the genesis of the movement. “I was speaking to a group of soon-to-be graduating seniors with about 50 to 60 in attendance. In my talk I was planning to cover savings, budgeting and investing tips that these seniors would be faced with once they hit the real world.”

When he reached the investing portion of his talk, he took a poll of the students to see how many of them had heard of what he calls “my most loved investment tool, the Roth IRA.”

“Can you guess the number?” he taunts. “Let me give you a hint: Zero, Zilch, Nada.”

Fearing that he hadn’t been heard, he repeated himself.

“’Have any of you ever heard of the Roth IRA?’ Unfortunately, my shock was confirmed. No one in the room knew what a Roth IRA was.”

That’s a shame, since the college demographic is a cohort that can most take advantage of the benefits of a Roth. If they haven’t even heard of the strategy, maybe industry education efforts aren’t quite what we thought.

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