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How to pick a Roth IRA

29 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

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Which of these lines is a lie?

  • Many of you have written to me telling me how you spent 150 man-hours studying the differences in Roth IRA accounts.
  • “I don’t want to become a financial expert. I just want my money to go where it needs to go and work for me so I can get on with my life.”

If you guessed the first one, you are correct. Almost nobody cares about the details. They just want to know what accounts are the best…from someone they trust.

To make that possible, I took on the onerous role of applying my extremely obsessive research style to figuring out the best accounts you should use. For the 0.00001% of you who care about the minute differences in accounts, I explain them. But for most people, I just share the accounts I use…because you know if I chose them, I spent many hours of my valuable youth researching them for you.

This way, I can do the work and you can benefit from my type-A fanaticism.

And I want to get ultra-specific with my recommendations. Which would you prefer?

  • Other “financial experts”: You should find an account that’s reliable and trustworthy!
  • Me: Here is the exact account I use, and why. GTFO fake experts

If you want to know which retirement account I use, I recorded a quick video to share my recommendations.


And if you want to know how to create an automatic money system that you’ll spend less than 1 hour per month on — including automatic bill pay, investing, savings, and best of all, guilt-free spending — you can pick up a copy of my book on Amazon.

*   *   *   *   *

Got a question you want me to cover in an upcoming “Ask Ramit” video?

Could be personal finance, earning more money, productivity, finding a Dream Job. Share your question in the comments below, and I’ll answer the best ones in upcoming videos.

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  1. Thanks Ramit. The final kick in the pants I needed. I’m finally signed up! Vanguard’s online registration was about as easy as it gets.

  2. Ramit,

    Great vid and good, succinct advice.

    I’ve been with Vanguard for my Roth since 2004 and have been extremely happy. For my money, it’s all about their S&P Index fund. 0.17% expense ratio! You can’t beat that! And then after I hit a certain amount (25K maybe?) they upgraded the shares and took the expense ratio down to .05%!! No other fees, super easy web interface, and great service when I call them on the phone. Hands down the best.

    Keep the good advice coming. Cheers, Paul

  3. I love my Vanguard Target Retirement Fund. Once I saved up the $1000 initial investment by setting aside 10% of my paycheck it was really easy to set up. After reading your book, I also have it set up to automatically pull a specified amount from my checking account each week (because I’m paid weekly) so that I’ll max it out over the course of the year. I think it took a grand total of 10 minutes to set everything up and its been working flawlessly for me.

  4. Hey Ramit-

    Vanguard is the Gold Standard for anyone opening an investment account who wants to follow their philosophy of low costs, broad sector-wide and asset class diversification and buy and hold.


    But. WHAT ABOUT HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS? They are all run by companies that I’ve never heard of and seem scammy, have crazy fees compared to Vanguard and other Custodians, and have so much paperwork required to deposit and then invest the proceeds that I’ve been putting it off for years even though I understand my optimal strategy. WTH?!?!

    Yeah, I know has Vanguard funds. Look at that website! $130 annual fees ($45 annual, $1.75 monthly fee, max $16/Q on $20k in assets) + the Vanguard costs. We wouldn’t accept this on any other account.

    Any suggestions on the best HSA Custodian?

    • In my experience, they are all terrible. Open to anyone else’s feedback but I haven’t found a good one yet.

    • I have a Wells Fargo HSA that was through my employer instead of traditional health insurance, so they were paying the fees and depositing a set amount in every month. I didn’t have any problems while my employer was paying the fees, but they stopped offering that option this year, so now I’m stuck with all the fees slowly eating away the funds my employer had given me.

      Now I’m not really sure what to do with it, because I haven’t found a low fee option to transfer it to, and taking the money out is a tax liability.

    • I don’t have much to offer, either. My company/health insurer goes through Bank of America. Basically, the only decent options are two Small and Mid-Cap index funds. And the expense ratio is still 2-3x what you’d see in a traditional Vanguard fund. But it’s better than the alternatives, which are mostly 1-2% expense active funds.

    • Is the 3rd layer of tax protection that HSA’s offer worth it despite the fees?

      tax-free when you put it in, tax free when you grow interest, and tax-free when you take it out for a qualified expense….

  5. Excellent advice. I use Vanguard for everything wherever possible – their funds are simple, cheap, and they provide great service. So, basically, everything you said.

    On a broader level, I’m a strong believer in your financial philosophy combined with the Bogleheads ( approach and YNAB. Both preach a similar approach. Automate, index funds, low fees. You really can’t beat Vanguard for enabling all of these things!

    Great video.

  6. Hej Ramit,

    An idea for your “Ask Ramit” video:
    We all know about your love affair with luxury hotels, as evidenced in your contests to win free nights at a luxury destination anywhere in the world.

    But for a lot of your readers it seems irrelevant to win this prize if the cost of getting there is prohibitive.

    What’s your advice for making international travel affordable? Does the Starwood American Express card that you recommend feature the best deals for plane tickets, or is that points system more focused on redeeming toward accommodations?


  7. Agree with Kevin. What is up with the high fee HSA custodians? It is a huge mess to navigate.

  8. Wow, my mind is blown. Ramit Sethi just made a post about personal finances!…? I don’t know how long it’s been since this has happened. But anyway, great to hear this advice. I personally use T. Rowe Price because it allowed me to start for just $50/month in college (before I would have been able to invest $1000-$2000 at once).

  9. Thanks for the article. I had just been looking into Roth IRAs. I was going to pick Scottrade. Is there a reason you go for the larger older companies instead of the internet companies such as Scottrade or Etrade?

    You briefly mentioned you’re choosing “trusted investment companies” in your book, but didn’t go into more detail.


    • One major reason I didn’t use Scottrade – they don’t offer auto-investment for free, at least as far as I can tell. There are some fee-free ETFs and such, but Vanguard’s auto-investment is far superior. Scottrade’s great for standard old stock trades, though.

  10. My employer has my HSA through

    Pleased; fairly decent investment options; my only fee is a 2.50/month fee.

    Much better than the JPMorgan/Chase one they used to have us with.