Q I know I am supposed to be putting money away for retirement, but how do you open an IRA?

Jeremy D., Blaine

Congratulations in realizing at an early age that your retirement is, as it should be, something for which you should plan. An IRA or individual retirement account provides for us the opportunity to sock away dollars on a tax-deferred basis for our golden years.

This sort of account can be opened online through a discount brokerage site such as Ameritrade, Scottrade or E-Trade, just to name a few. One thing to look for when opening an IRA through an online brokerage house is the annual maintenance fee that could be charged on your account. Some brokerage firms charge these custodian fees, others don't.

Another thing to look for when opening an IRA through an online brokerage is the commission charged when you trade a stock or mutual fund. You can expect commission expenses of $10 to $15 every time you make a trade.

The downfall for opening an IRA online for some people is that they have to pick their own investments. For this reason, many people would prefer dealing with an investment adviser to help them in with the process.

Unfortunately for our age demographic and average net worth, it is difficult to find unbiased investment advice. For this reason, it may be best for new investors to use some of the large, no-load mutual fund companies such as Vanguard, T. Rowe Price or Fidelity for their life-cycle funds.

Casey Diderrich, 24

Ka-Ching's financial experts at Edina-based Accredited Investors Inc. can be reached at kaching@startribune.com.