Captain of Your Own 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.'s captain: Tools for directing your own IRA and retirement plans
3 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Learn about the tools and calculators available to help self-directed IRA investors navigate their retirement journeys 
  • Explore the potential benefits and risks of adding futures and options to a portfolio 
  • Learn which investment alternatives may or may not be allowed in an IRA  

All hands on deck! The clock is ticking to fund your IRA for 2018. 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. TD Ameritrade also offers a number of tools to help you navigate the journey—a retirement calculator to help you see if your plans are on track, planning tools to help you align your portfolio with your goals, and much more. Click or tap any of the five tools below for a sampling of what’s available.  

Shivering Ye Timbers: Self-Directed Retirement

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, six 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 15

Choosing how to invest your retirement funds doesn’t have to be complicated, and TD Ameritrade is here to help. But if you haven’t funded your IRA for 2018, the clock is ticking. A contribution to an IRA or Roth IRA for 2018 can be made up until the deadline of April 15, 2019. For 2018, you can contribute up to $5,500, or $6,500 if you’re age 50 or above.* For 2019, the contribution limit rises to $6,000; $7,000 if you’re age 50 or above.

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.


Key Takeaways

  • Learn about the tools and calculators available to help self-directed IRA investors navigate their retirement journeys 
  • Explore the potential benefits and risks of adding futures and options to a portfolio 
  • Learn which investment alternatives may or may not be allowed in an IRA  
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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.

Carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing. A prospectus, obtained by calling 800-669-3900, contains this and other important information about an investment company. Read carefully before investing.

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. © 2019 TD Ameritrade.

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