Do your kids have a Kid Roth IRA? If you can manage it, I highly recommend getting one. A Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is an incredible savings vehicle – perhaps the best deal in all of personal finance.
My kids each have one. That’s very rare – I bet none of their classmates have one. They’ve had one since they were around five years old. They’re 8 and 9 now and they have around $2,000 and $3,000 respectively in retirement savings. They didn’t have to pay income tax on the income because they don’t make much money. They’ll be able to make withdrawals completely tax-free and penalty-free at age 59.5. By starting now, they’ve got the most valuable thing on their side – time.
It’s not easy to get a kid a Roth IRA account. The IRS has an annoying rule that the kids have to have earned income to put money into a Roth IRA. Unfortunately, you have pesky labor laws that make it difficult for kids to earn wages. Ideally, you’d have a kid who has earnings from a baby modeling career, but there aren’t enough of those to go around. It would be nice if people lined up to buy art from children, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.
Kid Roth IRAs and Self-Employment Income
How do my kids earn this money to comply with the IRS demands? I pay them to help with my dog sitting business. I typically make around $15,000 a year boarding dogs. It’s a very good side hustle while I’m freelancing from home and writing blog articles. After COVID vaccines became available, I made over $30,000 as everyone got pandemic dogs and every wanted to travel.
I’ve been dog sitting for more than seven years now, so the kids have grown up with a couple of extra dogs around. They’ve become naturally curious about feeding dogs and they love to play fetch with them. We’ve taught them how to pick up the dog droppings, but that’s not something they like. Some of their peers do that chore for their allowance. However, for the family dog sitting business, it’s part of the job.
Feeding dogs, playing with dogs, keeping the water bowl filled, and picking up after the dogs is most of the dog sitting job. These are all things that my kids can do. Occasionally I have to give them medicine. That’s about the only thing that I need to do 100% myself. The IRS should have no issue with me subcontracting out some of the work to them. A professional pooper scooper company costs a couple of thousand dollars a year for the number of dogs we have and how often they’d have to come. My kids aren’t professionals, but the service doesn’t fill the water bowls or play with the dogs, so I think it averages out.
Kid Roth IRAs: Powerful Stuff
A Roth IRA contribution at this age is very, very powerful. Money grows quite a bit over 55-60 years of compounding until they reach ages 65 and 66.
Before we get to my kids’ Roth IRA numbers, here’s a helpful CNBC video about how kid Roth IRAs works. Who wouldn’t want 3.4 million in one of their accounts?
My kids won’t have 3.4 million like the example in the video. If they were to earn 7% interest over that long period, a single dollar would be nearly $58. So $1000 in a Roth IRA would be worth $58,000. Of course, at 3.5% inflation over that time, you’d need $7,878 to have the buying power of $1,000 today.
When you crunch those numbers, it gives them a real post-inflation gain of 7x their money. Theoretically, if they could earn the $6000 Roth IRA limit, they’d set themselves up with $42,000 in retirement. Of course, that would be an extreme amount of dog care and that wouldn’t be reasonable.
In addition to the Roth IRA, we pay them some real spending money. They saved up for a Nintendo Switch before the pandemic. That was great timing because they were hard to find once COVID hit.
The first year, I settled on paying the younger one $400 and the older $600. In the next year, the younger got $600 and the older got $750. Last year, they got $750 and $1000 for each. The dog sitting business is going well with everyone traveling now that they are vaccinated.
My oldest would have an inflation-adjusted amount of $13,443.70 in his nest egg at age 65. My youngest would have to settle for “only” $10,066.02. He should catch up because he’ll have an extra year when my old son moves on.
Investing My Kids’ Roth IRA
You need to open a kid Roth IRA with a brokerage firm. I chose Fidelity because I already had my SEP-IRA with them. They allow you to buy many mutual funds, bonds, and ETFs with no trading fees. However, a lot of brokers have many investment options to manage the Roth IRA assets.
I normally believe in investing in only index funds for them. However, they always have some money left over. With VTI trading at $222, I buy a couple of shares with $600 and have over $150 leftover. That’s when I look at foreign ETFs such as VEU and VWO.
The Future of My Kids’ Roth IRA
In the next few years, I’m hoping they can participate in some of my blogging work. I need to think a little more about how this would work. Of course, I’d pay them for their time and insight, which would be taxable income.
After that maybe they can do babysitting or lifeguard work. I noticed that McDonald’s is hiring 14-year-olds now. There will be more opportunities for them to earn money as they get older. While all this is nice, their core “job” now is to get good grades in school.
Kid Roth IRAs FAQ
I thought I’d add an FAQ because I know that a lot of people have questions about Kid Roth IRAs. Some of these can get difficult, so I urge you to contact your tax specialist. I’m not a tax specialist and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn last night.
Can I open a Roth IRA for my child?
Yes, as long as the kid has earned income. Some popular self-employment gigs for young people are mowing lawns, babysitting, and dog-walking.
How much can a child put in a Roth IRA? Are there IRA contribution limits?
A child can put the same amount into a Roth IRA as an adult. Right now, in 2022, it is $6,000. There are no minimums to what a kid can put in a Roth IRA.
Can a parent contribute to a child’s IRA?
Technically, yes. I am my kids’ parent. With our dog sitting business, I pay them income for the work that they do. I’m acting as a business owner. As a parent, I put some of that money into their Roth IRA.
Do I get a tax deduction for contributing to a Roth IRA?
Unfortunately, you do not get a tax deduction, but don’t let that stop you. If you’ve learned nothing else in this article, you should realize the Roth IRA is an incredibly good deal.
Can my child use a Roth IRA for college?
Yes, there is no early withdrawal penalty for qualified education expenses such as college tuition. However, most financial experts agree that it’s better to let the Roth IRA to compound interest for retirement and save in a 529 Plan for college. 529 Plans are more flexible and don’t have the earned income requirement.
Can my kids cash out the Roth IRA at age 18?
Yes, when they become adults they’ll be able to take control of the Roth IRA. It’s important to teach your kids about money, so they understand that the penalties for withdrawing the money are severe.
I have a question that’s not listed here. How can I ask it?
Simply use the comment form below.
Brian MacFarland has reached more than 10 million people on his personal finance journey to financial independence. He’s been featured in the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, and Lifehacker.
Read more on the About page.