The deadline for making contributions to traditional and Roth IRAs is fast approaching. Here at the Fool, we believe you'll be hard-pressed to find better investment vehicles to help you retire comfortably.
For those under 50, the limit for your traditional and Roth IRA contributions combined stands at $5,000, if you're eligible for both types of IRAs.
For a lot of people who are striving to make ends meet, $5,000 is a lot to save up. As I'll show, by using the five companies I'll be talking about, you can easily meet your contribution limit for next year.
I'll also touch on whether these companies would be worth putting your investment dollars into, and I'll offer you a special free report on the shocking, can't-miss truth about your retirement at the end.
As a former teacher, I know that nothing helped me get through a rough day quite like a Diet Coke. In a typical week, I would easily down a full 12-pack. Had I bought a do-it-yourself soda maker from SodaStream, I might have had a cheaper alternative.
A check of my local grocery store shows a 12-pack now selling for $6.29. The cost for the same amount of a Diet Coke equivalent from SodaStream runs about $4.50. Assuming you drink one pack per week, here is what your savings would look like.
Source: Author's calculations.
Admittedly, the total savings -- about $93 -- isn't earth-shattering, especially when you have to factor in the purchase of the SodaStream machine during the first year. Plus, you can get Diet Coke a lot cheaper than $6.29 per 12-pack if you wait for sales.
When it comes to SodaStream as an investment, my mind simply isn't made up. Though it has many of the same characteristics of rocket-stock Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
This company, the parent of the ubiquitous K-Cup coffee makers, offers java-lovers all of the convenience of fresh brewed coffee from their own kitchens.
A grande regular coffee at a New York City Starbucks usually runs about $2.29. You can get the same Starbucks blend in your own kitchen for just $0.83, and even though a K-cup serving is smaller, it's good enough for me. Here's how savings could stack up by using Green Mountain's brewer over the course of a year.
Source: Author's calculations.
Unlike Sodastream, this offers some pretty hefty savings. Over the course of a year, K-Cup users save around $530 that could be put toward retirement savings.
But when it comes to Green Mountain as an investment, I'm much more wary. Though failure certainly isn't guaranteed, the impending loss of patent protection and competition from others is enough to keep me watching from the sidelines.
Though the same could be said for Travelzoo's Local Deals program, we could get a taste of the savings in store for vacationers by focusing on the company's core travel deals. For instance, just this week, Travelzoo has arranged a five-night, four-person vacation to Phuket, Thailand -- including food, entertainment, and accommodations -- for $299. That's a savings of $742. If your family was lucky enough to regularly book two such vacations per year, that would help add roughly $1,500 to your retirement savings.
Now, when it comes to these two companies as an investment, it's not quite the same screaming deal. Groupon is a hot mess, having had to restate its latest revenue numbers, and being on the hook for more money as it ventures into bigger ticket items. I'm making a bearish CAPScall on the company in my All-Star profile.
Travelzoo, on the other hand, seems to be much more promising. By combining its core travel business with a sustainable local deals service, I think it's on the right track, and I've put my own money -- and a CAPScall -- behind the company.
Finally, we have car-sharing pioneer Zipcar. The company has cars at the ready for city dwellers and college students on a moment's notice. For a flat yearly fee, and smaller hourly charges, Zipsters can use cars only when they need them -- and the cost of gas and insurance are included.
To figure out what savings for this service could be, I'm going to use a personal example. Upon moving to Chicago, my wife and I got rid of our car and relied on a combination of walking, our bikes, and Zipcar for transportation. When gas, insurance, car payments, and our regular usage habits were factored in, here is what the savings looked like.
Source: Author's calculations, assumes $4 per gallon for gas and 12,000 total miles driven in a 2005 Camry.
Clearly, this is where the real savings start to add up -- about $5,000 in my case. Though I've been frustrated by the stock's performance thus far, I've put my money and a CAPScall behind Zipcar as well. I think the company has the potential to exploit a paradigm shift in car ownership in America.
What's your next move?
Clearly, the examples above are just a sampling of the kind of savings you might experience. If there's any edge you can use to further your retirement goals, you should take it.
To that end, we've prepared special free report for just that purpose: "The Shocking Can't-Miss Truth About Your Retirement." Inside the report, you'll get the details on some oft-overlooked strategies to turbo-charge your IRAs. Get your copy of the report today, absolutely free!