A Hidden Wealth-Building Tool Every Investor Should Know About

If you already have a million dollars set aside for your retirement years – a figure most experts recommend as a goal – you’re not the norm.

According to 2013 data from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI),  individuals living on the cusp of retirement age (in their 50s and 60s) are well behind $1 million in savings. As of five years ago, soon to be retirees are coming in at $124,831 and $163,577 respectively.

A retirement savings crisis

More recently, an annual survey conducted by insurer Northwestern Mutual, found that one in three Americans has less than $5,000 set aside for retirement!

And while the data in Northwestern’s report is impacted by other age groups, the fact is that many Americans are well behind the one million dollar goal for their retirement portfolios.

In fact, a 2017 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) discovered that “about half of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings – and up to two-thirds of workers may not have saved enough to maintain their standard of living in retirement.”

Whether or not you’re behind in your retirement savings goals, as a savvy investor, you know why it’s smart to always be on the lookout for a great opportunity to grow your portfolio.

A self-directed IRA (SDIRA) is one such opportunity. And while it’s an investment tool that’s been around a while – since the 70s, actually – the truth is that it’s often “hidden” in plain sight.


Because banks and brokerage firms are, by and large, the custodians who offer traditional IRAs, which invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.

Alternative investments, then, aren’t on their radar so of course, they’re not going to advertise SDIRAs.

Investment choices

While there are many things you can choose to invest in, the following investment choices are among the most common.:

Stock market

Many individuals – perhaps even you – have made a lot of money on the stock market. But not everyone wants to invest in stocks, bonds, futures, commodities, etc.

Fortunately, for these individuals, there are always alternative investment options such as property investing.

Real estate investing

As you know, investing in real estate can be a very satisfying way to build wealth. It’s easy to understand and much of it is entirely within your control.

But, even if you choose to diversify your real estate holdings among a variety of real estate types; commercial, residential, multi-tenant, etc., at the end of the day you’re still investing in one asset class.

Pensions, 401k

Most employers offer some type of retirement funding option…and if it suits your retirement strategy these can be useful ways to build your nest egg.

However, you’re limited on how much you can contribute and you’re not in full control of the investments your plan makes.

Traditional and Roth IRAs, Self-Directed IRAs

With a self-directed IRA, you are in complete control of the investments you choose.  In fact, one of the best things about a self-directed IRA is that you can invest according to what you know and like.

Wine connoisseur?  Great! Your SDIRA can invest in a winery.

Want to lend money to a family member?

You may be able to do that (assuming they’re not a disqualified individual)

And then, of course, there’s real estate.

Following are just some of the types of real estate an IRA can invest in:

  • Raw land
  • Rental income properties
  • Manufactured homes
  • Public storage units
    Trust deeds
  • Secured notes
  • Parking lots, etc.
  • Timber rights
  • Mineral rights
  • Tree farms

Bottom line, with an SDIRA you have TOTAL CONTROL over your investment choices.

A quick overview of prohibited and acceptable transactions and parties when using a self-directed IRA:

  • You can’t buy from yourself or another prohibited person. (think “up and down” your family tree; parents, kids, spouses)
    • You can, however, go “left to right”, so siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. are not disqualified parties.
  • You can’t use your IRA as collateral for a personal loan.
  • Co-mingling is prohibited (e.g. if your IRA is the owner of record and you start paying for the roof leak, etc. with taxable dollars, the IRS considers it to be commingling your taxable money with your qualified money)
  • As you’re probably aware, expenses and cash flows would have to go through the IRA. Because it’s the owner, all the rent and income flow back into the IRA.
  • Obviously then, the same thing would apply if you had an expense in connection with the property (or other assets).

Self-directed IRA changes for 2019

If you already invest in an SDIRA or plan to, the following changes for self-directed IRAs will happen next year.:

New contribution limits for 2019

  • 2018 – $5,500
  • 2019 – $6,000

Individuals over 50

  • 2018 – $6,500
  • 2019 – $7,000

401(k) employee contributions


  • under 50 – $18,500
  • 50+ – $24,500


  • under 50 – $19,000
  • 50+ – $25,000


2018 – $55,000 Max Considered Compensation – $275,000

2019 – $56,000 Max Considered Compensation – $280,000



  • Under 50 – $12,500
  • 50+ – $15,500


  • Under 50 – $13,000
  • 50+ – $16,000

As of October 2018, the ability to recharacterize a Roth conversion has ended.

As of March, 2018, there was a reported $9.2 Trillion in IRAs in the U.S. (up from $8.7 trillion).

If you’re looking for an investment option outside of Wall Street, a self-directed IRA is a great investment choice.

Creating your SDIRA

Opening up your own self-directed IRA is easy, but it will require setting it up with a custodian who can handle the administrative work for you to make sure you get the tax breaks you’re eligible for and that the IRS requirements are met.

  1. Open and fund your IRA (using new deposit or move money from an existing IRA or another retirement vehicle)
    1. Fill out an application
    2. Provide proof of your identity (eg. Drivers’ license)
    3. Provide a method of payment
  2. Choose your investment
  3. Purchase the investment through your IRA (note: the asset will not be in your personal name, but will be held in the name of the IRA, for your benefit (your custodian will send the funds from your IRA to purchase the investment)
  4. Manage your investment
  5. Sell the investment – proceeds return to IRA tax-deferred or tax-free and can be used for future investments

Remember…the custodian you use is passive – they don’t give you advice, they’re just a holding entity, that’s all.

When you’re looking for a home for your SDIRA, go with an experienced company like UDirectIRA.

UDirectIRA provides administrative services for investors.

“We help people invest outside the stock market to improve their financial future,” said Kaaren Hall, CEO of UDirectIRA. Investors should know that self-directed IRAs are a great way to invest in asset classes that they understand.

“There is a retirement crisis in America. Ten thousand people are turning 65 every day. In fact, I read one article that said there are more older people than there are children in the world, which is a first time ever, so our population, on the whole, is aging, but people aren’t prepared to retire.

“Even if you have, for example, $100,000 in an IRA account. It seems like a lot of money, but I did the math one time and figured out that if you’re 59 1/2 and you’ve got $100,000, assuming no gain or loss, that means only $396.83 a month if you live till 86.5.  We have to get busy and build our nest eggs so we can have a quality retirement.  $400 a month is not going to cut it for anyone.”

“Know that if you take even, monthly distributions, that’s only going to give you just under $400 dollars a month!

“Everybody needs to retire at some point in time, and most people don’t have enough money saved. It’s a real crisis and we’re trying to help people avoid that through the use of Self-Directed IRAs.  A Self-Directed IRA, invested in asset classes our account holders understand,  means more control over their financial future”.


Kaaren Hall

Kaaren has helped hundreds of people self­direct their retirement savings. A native of California, she has a 17­year background in Real Estate, Property Management and Mortgage Lending. She has worked at such companies as Bank of America, Centex Homes, Pulte Homes and Indymac Bank. She’s held a real estate license in Washington, T exas and California and a Life & Health license in California.

Her company , uDirect IRA Services, LLC, offers self­directed education and services to investors, providing excellent customer service. Kaaren is a public speaker and master networker . A mother of two, she lives in Orange County.



Retirement Savings – History & Trends

By Kaaren Hall

“The retirement crisis is the largest and most urgent global crisis we face today.”

The world’s most respected economists and financial analysts believe the pending retirement crisis is of paramount importance. So how did we land here? How have retirement plans evolved over the years? What risks and challenges do individuals face now? What emerging trends and strategies are arising that could save the global economy, and your financial future?

To really get the value, the importance, the right perspective, and the potential of self-directed IRA investing it is critical to understand the history and emerging trends…

A Quick History of Retirement Accounts

  • 13 BC Roman Emperor Augustus began pensions for legionnaires with 20 years of service[1].
  • In the 1st century the New Testament pioneered the idea of tithing to help the poor and widows.
  • 1717 the Presbyterian Church begins a fund for retiring ministers[2].
  • In 1889 century if Plymouth colonists were wounded in combat they received a pension[3] to support their families. However, the tax collection to raise these funds was often carried out by the ‘retired’ veterans themselves.
  • In 1875 the first private pension plan in America was created by the American Express Railroad.
  • 1900 – Life expectancy is 49 years old[4], with retired workers generally being disabled.
  • In 1935 Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. The act provided a fixed income for the disabled and retired workers aged 65+. This was funded by a 1% tax on employees and their employers. By 2006 that tax had risen to 7.65% on employees and employers.
  • 1974 saw the birth of tax deductible IRAs.
  • In 1981 401ks were established.
  • Then Roth IRAs were born in 1997.
  • In 2009 uDirect IRA Services, LLC was launched to assist individuals with self-directed IRA accounts (and Solo 401(k) accounts)
  • August 31, 2016, S&P Dow Jones Indices and MSCI moved stock-exchange listed Equity REITs and other listed real estate companies from the Financials Sector of their Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS®) to a new Real Estate Sector.

Looking back a couple of century’s average people just never lived long enough to retire, nor was simply dropping out to play golf and sip tea all day something people strived for. They simply worked till they dropped.

The ‘golden years’ was a term originally coined to refer to the peak working and earning years of 25 to 40. Now it is commonly used to describe a coveted period of relaxation, golfing, bingo, and travel, with plenty of income, and no work. Of course those are the golden years most of us are craving today; and if we can get there in our 40s we’re even happier (at least until we get bored).

So how well are Americans doing at achieving the finances needed for a retirement, and preferably a comfortable, and timely one? With ten-thousand Baby Boomers reaching age 65 every day for the next decade this is a question in desperate need of an answer. Not only is this large sector of our population aging but the vast majority of pensions are under-funded and Social Security is anything but secure.

The answer may well be found by taking retirement into our own hands and investing in the asset classes we know best. That’s what self-directed IRAs allow us to do. We can move our retirement accounts over to self-directed accounts and invest in “alternative assets” like real estate, private stock, precious metals, notes and more to secure our financial future.






The Self-Directed IRA Card that Changes DYNAMICS in Investing

Interview by Tim Houghten

Ever wished self-direct-ed IRA investing was simpler for you and those you work with?

Wished that all the net return and tax advantages of investing through an IRA where as easy to wield, and as comfortable as having cash in your pocket, swiping a card, or making online and mobile payments from your smart-phone?

The Entrust Group myDirection Visa® Card delivers all of that.


Self-directed IRAs are undeniably one of the best power tools available to investors today. Self-directed IRAs just makes investing better, and more profitable. Not having one means paying more in taxes, and suffering subpar investment returns.

Yet, until now many have passed on the power perks of this vehicle due to perceiving it as complicated, sluggish, and time consuming. This isn’t just a problem for individual investors, but for real estate educators and professionals, and their clients that stand to win so much.

The Entrust Group myDirection Card promises to tear down these old barriers, to deliver more of what investors want, need and deserve. It’s the ability and flexibility to direct your future with the swipe of a card or a smartphone app. The new pre-paid Visa card powered by citi enables individual investors to maintain control of their funds, on-demand.


1. Make instant transactions

2. Save on transaction fees and paperwork

3. Invest online


In an exclusive interview with Certified IRA Services Professional and President of The Entrust Group, Jason Craig highlights some of the critical investor needs that the myDirection card solves. When put in perspective it’s pretty clear that a card like this is essential for enabling investors to operate effectively in today’s modern landscape, while maximizing opportunities.

Being able to invest online is a huge step for IRA account holders. This means being able to take advantage of crowdfunding opportunities and auctions. Even in person investors can now potentially snap up tax-liens, mortgage notes, and auction properties with their cards.

Entrust’s Jason Craig also highlights card benefits that go beyond acquisition to asset and property management. For example, if you own real estate in your IRA the antiquated tradition required contacting your administrator, submitting contractor estimates, and having checks mailed, all before being able to get contractors to work on repairs. That’s not highly efficient on a weekend evening when a major leak shows up. So the card not only “reduces time to payment and action, but eliminates the hassle of receipts, wasted time, and reduces expenses.” That means more freedom, and net profit.


Craig explains that one of the reasons a card like this has taken so long to launch is the meticulous attention and re-ver-ifying in every step to ensure compliance, user experience, functionality, and “getting it just right.” It’s kind of like Elon Musk designing the new Tesla SUV, and ensuring the artistic middle row seats fit just right between the wing doors as it carries executives want to go. You can’t rush perfection.

The card itself is an asset held within the investor’s IRA. Account holders can have their cards reloaded with more cash as needed in amounts from $100 to $25,000. To ensure compliance and avoid triggering “prohibited transactions” or taxable events, investors have 30 days after a transaction to certify what it was for.


Craig joined The Entrust Group in 2007. Along with pioneer of the first “truly self-directed IRA” founder Hubert Bromma. One of the longest established self-direct-ed IRA companies (since 1981), The Entrust Group now offers arobust, tech-savvy, stronger partner for investors. Craig describes some of the changes as including the consolidation of franchises to bring everything back into one streamlined powerhouse for superior service and compliance. This along with bringing over the human touch and one-on-one service approach from Craig’s private banking background has resulted in a consistent “90% plus client satisfaction rate.”

Another tech tool this has produced for investors is the Saved-Plus mobile app. While most advocates for IRA investing in the real estate world focus on those with existing large balance accounts, this app enables those just starting out to “open an account, save, and monitor their accounts right from their mobile phones.”

Automated transfers can even be created to build up a retirement account based upon preset criteria, including a percentage of expenses on other cards. For example, you might want to ensure you are diligently and religiously setting aside at least 25% of what you spend on entertainment and eating out each month. This app puts that on autopilot, and helps you stay on track to investing.


The Entrust Group’s motto is: “We don’t compete. We complement.” Jason Craig states that “we work with a lot of REALTORS ® , are a Keller Williams preferred vendor, and attend NAR shows.” In the past, the firm has also collaborated on educational events and seminars with real estate investment groups and real estate related trade shows. Support and opportunities include training, free professional marketing materials, participating in live workshops, and discounted fees for opening self-directed IRA accounts.

To propel action and add real value Craig says that accounts “can now be set up the same day.” This means real estate pros and businesses can not only attract more prospects and raise their awareness of these tools and tactics for releasing more capital, but can actively and instantly help more clients in a bigger way, while unleashing their own business volume potential. And the myDirection Card is going to make conversions and action a lot easier than ever before.

Go online to for more tools, details of the B2B accelerator program, to download the SavedPlus app, and request a myDirection card. No one should be caught without one.


Retire Wealthy with IRA Investing

By Stephanie B. Mojica

Self-directed individual retirement accounts or IRAs are rapidly growing in popularity, but experts warn that it is important to only get into such an investment with proper education and professional guidance.

Kaaren Hall, owner of uDirect IRA Services in Orange County, Calif., says even after more than two decades in the financial industry and four years of running her company she too must continually stay on top of her investment education particularly regarding Internal Revenue Service guidelines for retirement accounts.

Self-directed IRAs allow people to invest their retirement funds into a variety of options outside of the traditional stock market, including real estate, land, and private notes.

“Financial literacy is not taught in schools, but our future depends on understanding it,” Hall says. “Only about 4 percent of u.S. investors have a self-directed IRA. Why? Because most investors and many advisors simply aren’t aware of it.”

But even those who are aware of the potential financial power of self directed IRAs often do not fully comprehend is the IRS guidelines of “prohibited transactions,” according to Hall.

“You’re not allowed to have any personal benefit from your IRA prior to retirement,” Hall says.

A common misconception among investors is that they can use the self-directed IRA funds to purchase real estate or other property from themselves or close relatives such as a spouse, a child, a grandchild, a parent, a grandparent and any spouses of such relatives. These transactions are not permitted under self-directed IRAs, according to Hall. However, an investor could purchase property from a more distant relative such as a sibling, a cousin, a niece, or an uncle.

“Make sure you know what you’re doing,” Hall says. “We’re here to help people so they understand the twists and turns as much as possible.”

The term self-directed in itself misleads some people because it is the IRA doing the investing, Hall adds.

“So that’s confusing because they get into trouble by maybe signing a purchase contract (in their own name),” she says. “Your IRA can’t buy an asset that you own.”

Consequently, people should wait until they actually open an account with a qualified custodian before funding it and making transactions, Hall says. Generally, a custodian rather than the actual investor should sign purchase contracts relevant to self-directed IRAs.

While representatives of companies such as uDirect IRA do not give actual investment advice due to potential legal liability, they can help people follow ever-changing IRS guidelines.

Hall, a former mortgage broker whose work history includes Bank of America and Indymac Bank, has educated tens of thousands of investors into deciding whether self-directed IRAs are right for them. She and her associates have directly worked with thousands of clients.

To learn more about self-directed IRAs, call 866-447-6598 or visit