For many typical Central Florida breadwinners, last week’s stock market gyrations undoubtedly revived feelings that had been largely absent for quite a while: retirement jitters. Nearly a quarter of working Americans own Individual Retirement Accounts—but since most IRAs’ values fluctuate considerably with the ups and downs of Wall Street, when major indexes officially enter correction territory (as the New York Times reported last Thursday), savers’ anxiety levels head toward redline territory. 

That’s too bad because one of the principal purposes of saving for retirement is to create a secure feeling about the future. Even if the financial pundits seem undismayed by all the correction territory chitchat, those feelings can begin to evaporate.

All of this may seem unavoidable, but there is an alternative strategy that Central Florida retirement savers might want to check into. It’s a sort of do-it-yourself option that’s called a Self-Directed IRA (SDIRA). It is structured to allow withdrawals at a specified age—but differs from other IRAs in that it allows investments in a wide variety of diversified investment choices, including Central Florida real estate as well as private market securities and more. The tax advantages are like those enjoyed by traditional and Roth IRA accounts.

Since I am not a financial planner, I’ll refrain from providing much more than a few brief observations about SDIRAs: 

  • •They aren’t for everyone. Since they’re subject to more stringent and complex IRS rules than regular IRAs—and since they are actively directed by the beneficiary—they require a good deal more initiative and due diligence.
  • •Although the beneficiary makes the investment decisions, SDIRA accounts are opened, held, and administered by a recognized SDIRA specialist firm which acts as a trustee or “custodian.” 
  • •Custodian firms may allow only some kinds of investment assets, so it’s important to be sure they match the investor’s preferred mix of assets. This is a list of custodian firms.
  • •IRA rules do not allow SDIRA investments to be used for personal use until the targeted withdrawal date—so, for instance, any Central Florida rental property held in an SDIRA could not be used for the investor or family members until then.

If this little-publicized alternative sounds intriguing, you should do your own research—and probably an in-depth consultation with a trusted financial adviser. I will be standing by to introduce you to the wide assortment of Central Florida properties that might just become key elements in a more diversified—and more stable—retirement picture!