Captain of Your Own Retirement Ship? Investment Choices Aweigh

A self-directed IRA means you're 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
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Key Takeaways

  • Use tools and calculators to help navigate self-directed IRA investments 
  • Consider adding futures and options to your portfolio for diversity and protection
  • Determine which investment alternatives may or may not be allowed in an IRA  

All hands on deck! Directing your own IRA essentially makes you the chief cook, bottle washer, and captain of the ship, which means you’re responsible for determining the mix of assets 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. You can also access 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. Select any of the three tools below for a sampling of what’s available.  

Start Steering Toward Retirement

Tacking and Jibing in Your Portfolio

You may want to explore adding futures and options to your portfolio for potential asset class diversification, protection, and potential income generation. These products have substantial and more complex risk and are not for all investors.

Futures: Futures can give you exposure to nontraditional asset classes such as precious and industrial metals (gold, silver, platinum, copper); energy (crude oil, natural gas); agricultural commodities (corn, soybeans, livestock); plus foreign currency (futures), bond futures, and stock indices. These markets are open virtually 24 hours a day, six days a week. But futures aren’t like traditional securities. Not all account owners will qualify to trade futures, and because they are leveraged instruments, they are inherently riskier and have minimum net capital requirements.

Options: You can also buy and sell options in an IRA, provided you get approval and follow only approved options strategies. Options are contracts that give the buyer the right (but not the obligation) to buy or sell an underlying asset. Options could provide you with flexibility to attempt to manage risk and potentially generate income in your IRA. Like futures, options involve unique risks and are not suitable for everyone.

Determine Your Best Midyear Strategy

Choosing how to invest your retirement funds doesn’t have to be complicated, and TD Ameritrade is here to help. You can consider all your investing choices as part of your midyear review of your portfolio and planning for the rest of 2019. Contributions to an IRA or Roth IRA for a given year can be made up until the tax filing deadline in April*. For 2019, you can contribute up to $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older up until April 15, 2020.

Ahoy There! Ready for Retirement?

See if you’re on the right course for retirement. Call us at 800-454-9272 to speak with a financial consultant who can help develop a plan to meet your goals and objectives.

Doug Ashburn is not a representative of TD Ameritrade, Inc. The material, views, and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and may not be reflective of those held by TD Ameritrade, Inc.

Key Takeaways

  • Use tools and calculators to help navigate self-directed IRA investments 
  • Consider adding futures and options to your portfolio for diversity and protection
  • Determine which investment alternatives may or may not be allowed in an IRA  

Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information

Content intended for educational/informational purposes only. Not investment advice, or a recommendation of any security, strategy, or account type.

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.

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.

*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 involves substantial risk, and is not suitable for all investors. Please read the Risk Disclosure Statement prior to trading futures products.

Futures accounts are not protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). Futures and futures options trading services provided by Charles Schwab Futures and Forex LLC. Trading privileges subject to review and approval. Not all clients will qualify.

Charles Schwab Futures and Forex LLC, a CFTC-registered Futures Commission Merchant and NFA Forex Dealer Member. Charles Schwab Futures and Forex LLC is a subsidiary of The Charles Schwab Corporation.  

IMPORTANT: The projections or other information generated by the TD Ameritrade Goal Planning tool (“Goal Planning”) regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results. Results may vary with each use and over time.


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.

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, a subsidiary of The Charles Schwab Corporation. © 2024 Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. All rights reserved.

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