The Roth IRA contribution deadline is looming. With less than two weeks left, it's time to fund your account if you haven't already done so. Let's quickly review why a Roth IRA is so critically important in saving for your retirement. Then we'll look at three great stocks for a dividend investor's Roth.
Best bang for your buck
Your most powerful way to save for retirement is a Roth IRA. It allows after-tax contributions in exchange for tax-free income in retirement. If you haven't made your contribution for 2012, you have until the tax-filing deadline to do so. If you're under age 50, you can fork over $5,000 into a Roth. If you are age 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000.
If you're flush with cash, strongly consider getting a jump on your 2013 contribution. The limits are more generous -- $5,500 if you're under age 50. If you're 50 or older, you can still contribute that additional $1,000.
But keep in mind that some individuals are excluded from contributing to a Roth. If you're a high-wage earner, familiarize yourself with Roth eligibility requirements before contributing.
Stock ideas for the dividend investor
For income-desiring investors, there are many solid dividend-paying stocks trading at good buys in today's market. I've found three companies with competitive positions whose stocks boast strong dividend yields and attractive valuations. They each have forward price-to-earnings ratios less than the S&P 500's current P/E of 18. And while the average dividend yield of S&P 500 companies is 1.9%, these companies pay yields greater than the market.
Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW)
This Illinois-based manufacturer will likely benefit as spending ramps up in transportation and construction, two industries that make up a healthy portion of the company's revenue. Illinois Tool Works holds nearly 20,000 patents, indicating a successful history of innovation. The century-old company boasts a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 13 and a 2.5% dividend yield.
US Bancorp (NYSE:USB)
A top holding of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, it's what US Bancorp has avoided that makes it appealing for investors: The bank didn't aggressively lend to the extent of its too-big-to-fail counterparts. The conservative nature of this regional bank has helped it return healthy shareholder value during the past several decades. The stock pays a 2.3% dividend yield and boasts a forward P/E ratio of 10.
Another Berkshire Hathaway favorite, Coca-Cola dominates Interbrand's "Best Global Brand" list, having secured its top-spot status every year since the list's inception. With its beloved and blockbuster brand, the company enjoys fantastic margins and robust sales growth despite global economic headwinds. As a tasty bonus for shareholders, Coca-Cola pays a 2.8% dividend yield, which it's increased for 50 consecutive years.
Foolish bottom line
The Roth IRA contribution deadline is fast approaching. So, don't miss your opportunity to fund a retirement account and secure your financial future. Consider these three great dividend-paying stocks for your contribution dollars today.
Fool contributor Nicole Seghetti owns shares of US Bancorp. Follow her on Twitter @NicoleSeghetti. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway, Coca-Cola, and Illinois Tool Works. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.