IRA contributions

Question: My 18 year old daughter is graduating high school and going on to college. She has had odd jobs, but has earned no more than $600. I would like to open an IRA for her to get her thinking and planning for her future. Can I open an IRA for her for more than what she has earned? Thank you. Olga, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Answer: I think it's a wonderful idea for her to open up an IRA. The contribution limit to an IRA if you're under 50 is $5,000 (and its $6,000 if you're 50 or over). However, the law says she can't put more into an IRA than her earned income. So her limit is around $600. By the way, I would set up a Roth-IRA. When she retires several decades from now she can withdraw the gain with no tax liability. What's more, the contributions are a stash of emergency money. She can always tap the contributions without penalty or tax.

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Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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