How to Approach an IRA if 2022 Goes Into a Recession

Folks might be thinking 2022 is a lousy year to put money into an individual retirement account or IRA, but there’s never a wrong time to do so, even when older. Barry Bulakites has seen this same question play out again and again with each recession.

An IRA is one of the few tax shelters allowed by the government that anyone can use. It’s a great way to park long-term savings, avoid more income taxes than necessary, and build up reserves for one’s later years all in one package. Unfortunately, IRAs get a lot of bad reps because they take a long time to build up; the government limits how much one can deposit in an IRA per year, which is the downside of the financial tool.

With the 2022 market in the doldrums and the word “recession” whispered in every corner, many folks might feel keeping extra funds in a savings account or in cash is a more intelligent move. In fact, it’s probably the opposite, argues Barry Bulakites. After taking care of living expenses and emergency savings, leftover funds kept in basic savings of cash form are essentially eroding and losing value thanks to a double-whammy of income taxes and inflation. Always present, even in good times, Bulakites reflects that inflation continues to chip away at the value of a dollar, which is why that 25-cent comic book you remember as a kid now costs over $5 to buy today. Instead, folks have two choices: put their money in an account that avoids taxes as long as possible, gaining the maximum value of the income when it’s finally pulled out, or investing it to increase the value more than it is.

Barry Bulakites reminds folks an IRA does both for a saver. First, IRAs can be combined with investment platforms to allow owners to market play, increasing their IRA value while waiting for the eventual withdrawal. That in and of itself allows the funds to grow considerably with the right investment choices and timing. Secondly, pushing the withdrawal out to one’s later years means a lower tax bracket, also producing serious savings on those funds when actually withdrawn versus income taxes now while earning.

Some might argue that an IRA makes no sense for those who are older and have a shorter span before needing retirement funds, like folks in their 50s. In reality, people are living much longer. Granted, even if 2022 went into recession, the likelihood is that many people, thanks to medical advances, will still live decades longer. And that means funds saved in an IRA will come in very handy in those late and later years.

Where possible, contribute the maximum amount possible each year, put to $6,000 in 2021 and 2022. After age 50, eligible account holders can also contribute an additional $1,000 catchup amount, for a total of $7,000 per year. As a couple, both could contribute up to a combined $14,000 total per year with this feature. And that starts to become a real nest egg after a decade or so, Bulakites says.

So is 2022 a rough year so far? Maybe, but it is no reason not to keep contributing or even starting an IRA. Instead, it’s a vivid reason why an IRA makes so much sense. Barry Bulakites notes good times and recessions will come again in the future.