Author Topic: IRA versus brokerage account  (Read 830 times)


  • Stubble
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IRA versus brokerage account
« on: May 31, 2020, 11:56:55 PM »
I'm currently 32 working full time with a 401K that I contribute 10% to. I understand that the typical hierarchy of investment allocation is 401K, then IRA, then taxable brokerage accounts. However if I am looking at purchasing my first home sometime in the next 5-10 years I'm having some trouble understanding whether I should be maxing out my IRA contributions every year when that money could be put towards a down payment at the appropriate time. If I put them into an IRA I could be facing a 10% penalty for early withdrawal. I know there is some amount I can take out penalty free for first home purchase.

Living in southern CA I anticipate I may need a substantial amount on a down payment. 5-10 years is when I anticipate an actual need to purchase a home if I have my own family however I am open to purchasing a home any time from now if an opportunity arises such as a real estate market crash. However my concern being much of my money being tied into taxable brokerage accounts (VSTAX) may also take a hit in value as a real estate markets tank if they ever do to a large degree. However if the real estate tanks severely enough I may still pull money to purchase. With that in mind should I still be maxing IRA contributions?


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: IRA versus brokerage account
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2020, 03:21:22 AM »
That is up to you, and will depend on the relative value you place on home ownership vs. how soon you would be able to retire comfortably.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: IRA versus brokerage account
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2020, 12:00:44 PM »
I married in 2007 and bought a house in 2010.  In 2007 I didn't know we would buy a house so soon, so I was putting money into a Roth IRA, and a minimal amount into my 401(k).  I was using the rest to pay extra on student loans.  The housing crash hit, the government was giving free money towards a house down payment, and we realized it was cheaper to buy a larger house than continue renting.  The last part is only partially true as the house we ended up buying added a 45 minute highway commute replacing an 8 minute in town commute.
Roth IRAs allow you to withdrawal contributions tax and penalty free for any purposes.  That is what we did.  If I had any gains (I'm not sure any remained), I left them in there.
What I don't like about brokerage accounts is if you move your investments around a little it triggers gains even if you don't remove the money from the account.  If you move from S&P 500 to bonds, you get taxed, and have to report the sell.  If you move from either to a company stock you get taxed and have to report the sell.  Whereas I can do as I like in an IRA account without needing to report it.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: IRA versus brokerage account
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2020, 12:04:03 PM »
A Roth IRA allows you to hedge your bets. If you need it, the contributions will be available.


  • Stubble
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Re: IRA versus brokerage account
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2020, 05:26:33 PM »
And note that you can withdraw $10K from your IRA penalty free if you're a first-time home-buyer. If it's from your Roth, you won't pay taxes on that either.

And they're not mutually exclusive. You could contribute to the Roth and to the tax free savings account.