Captain of Your Retirement Ship? Investment Choices Aweigh

A self-directed IRA means you are in charge of asset selection and management, so it’s important to understand your choices.

Print's captain: Tools for directing your own IRA and retirement plans
3 min read

All hands on deck! The clock is ticking to fund your IRA for 2016. Directing your own IRA essentially makes you the chief cook, bottle washer, and captain of the ship, which means you're responsible for asset selection as well as risk management.

IRA investors at TD Ameritrade have a range of investment choices, including stocks, bonds/fixed income, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and managed accounts, says Dara Luber, senior manager, retirement at TD Ameritrade.

Shivering Ye Timbers? Ideas to Help You Get Started

Not sure how to get started? Here are a few ideas to help you explore and identify investments that may be suited for your long-term retirement goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance levels.

1. Retirement calculator. Calculate if your retirement plans are on track toward your objective.

2. Goal planning. In person or over the phone, TD Ameritrade’s goal-planning sessions are a complimentary service for you to strategize for your financial future with the support of a TD Ameritrade financial consultant. What have you got to lose? Take the time to plan your vision for the future and implement steps to pursue those goals.

There is a correlation between those who save today, even in small increments on a regular basis, and those who arrive in retirement better prepared, Luber says.

3. Portfolio planner. This tool can help you determine an asset allocation that aligns with your goals, both short and long term.

4. Investment screeners. This research tool can help you identify investment funds that align with your strategy. You can screen for individual stocks, options, mutual funds, and ETFs. 

5. Income-planning worksheet. Use this worksheet to get a handle on your expenses in retirement and develop an income plan for your golden years.

Tacking and Jibing for the Active Trader

If you’re part of the active trading crowd, you may want to explore adding futures and options to your portfolio for potential asset class diversification, protection, and potential income generation.

Futures: Futures can give you exposure to non-traditional asset classes such as precious and industrial metals (gold, silver, platinum, copper), energy (crude oil, natural gas), agricultural commodities (corn, soybeans, livestock), plus foreign currencies, bonds, and stock indexes. These markets are open virtually 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, and the more active contracts can provide deep liquidity. But futures are not like traditional securities, and they're not for everybody. Not all account holders will qualify, and because futures are leveraged instruments, there are minimum net capital requirements.

Options: You can also buy and sell options in an IRA, provided you get approval. Note, however, that not all options strategies are allowed. Basically, you can't sell naked calls, so no short straddles or strangles, and you can't short stocks. But you can, with approval, sell covered calls, write cash-secured puts, buy options, and trade certain spreads. This may provide you with enough flexibility to attempt to manage the risk and potentially generate income in your IRA. Like futures, options involve unique risks and are not suitable for everyone.

Get into Port by April 18

Choosing how to invest your retirement funds doesn't have to be complicated, and TD Ameritrade is there to help. But if you haven't funded your IRA for 2016, the clock is ticking.  A contribution to an IRA or Roth IRA for 2016 can be made up until the April 18, 2017 due date. For 2016, you can contribute up to $5,500, or $6,500 if you are age 50 or over.*  

Ahoy There! Ready for Retirement?

See if you are on the right path to retirement. Call us at 800-213-4583 to speak with a retirement consultant who can personalize a plan for you.

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*Maximum contribution limits cannot be exceeded. Contribution limits provided are based on federal law as stated in the Internal Revenue Code. Applicable state law may be different. TD Ameritrade does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor before contributing to your IRA.

Futures and futures options trading is speculative and is not suitable for all investors. Please read the Risk Disclosure Statement prior to trading futures products. Futures trading privileges are subject to review and approval. Not all account owners will qualify. Futures accounts are not protected under the Securities Investor Protection Act. 

Spreads, Straddles, and other multiple-leg option strategies can entail substantial transaction costs, including multiple commissions, which may impact any potential return.  These are advanced option strategies and often involve greater risk, and more complex risk, than basic options trades.


Market volatility, volume, and system availability may delay account access and trade executions.

Past performance of a security or strategy does not guarantee future results or success.

Options are not suitable for all investors as the special risks inherent to options trading may expose investors to potentially rapid and substantial losses. Options trading subject to TD Ameritrade review and approval. Please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options before investing in options.

Supporting documentation for any claims, comparisons, statistics, or other technical data will be supplied upon request.

The information is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy, and is for illustrative purposes only. Be sure to understand all risks involved with each strategy, including commission costs, before attempting to place any trade. Clients must consider all relevant risk factors, including their own personal financial situations, before trading.

This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to do business or where such offer or solicitation would be contrary to the local laws and regulations of that jurisdiction, including, but not limited to persons residing in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UK, and the countries of the European Union.

TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. TD Ameritrade is a trademark jointly owned by TD Ameritrade IP Company, Inc. and The Toronto-Dominion Bank. © 2018 TD Ameritrade.

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