Look to contribute to a Roth IRA each year since the earnings from these tax-advantaged savings vehicles are never taxed (unlike traditional IRA's which are taxed as ordinary income at your marginal tax rate at the time you take distributions from your traditional IRA). Also, Roth IRA balances are not subjected to the required minimum distribution rules when you reach 70 1/2 years old. Therefore, if you do not need the money at that time, you can continue to let your money grow tax-free and ultimately leave a larger sum to your decedents if you so choose.
Now for some of the mechanics of the Roth IRA:
You can contribute up to $5,000 ($6,000 if age 50 or over) for 2008 and 2009. Keep in mind that your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) has to be below $166,000 to contribute the full amounts previously mentioned. If your MAGI is between $166,000 and $176,000, then you can contribute some amount less than the full limit. If your income exceeds $176,000, they you are not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA for 2009. In 2008, this phase-out range is $159,000 to $169,000.
For single individuals, this Roth IRA phase-out limit is lower: $105,000 to $120,000 for 2009. In 2008, a single individual’s income restriction is between $101,000 and $116,000.
Remember that you still have until April 15 of this year to make a contribution to any IRA account for 2008.
Finally, a big advantage to a Roth IRA is that you can use this as an emergency fund since you can withdrawal your principal (the amount you've actually contributed to the Roth IRA) at any time without penalty. This will allow you to garner a market rate of return on your emergency funds while possibly building a source of retirement income at the same time.
Please visit www.taxsmarty.com for more helpful tax tips and information.