The other day on our discussion boards, I ran across Kevin, who called himself "the biggest fool of all." As I read the question that he was asking, I saw that he was far from a (lower-case) fool. He was, after all, smart enough to ask a very good question:

"My bank charges $50 a year to manage my traditional IRA account. Is this about right? Would it be better to look elsewhere for a lower fee? What are the rest of you [F]ools doing?"

Not surprisingly, he heard from a gaggle of fellow board denizens.

Ptheland cleverly replied: "Define 'right.' Right for the bank? Yes. Right for you? No. Would it be better to look elsewhere for a lower fee? Yes. What are the rest of you [F]ools doing? TD Ameritrade. $0 annual fee."

[That response prompted me to pop over to our Broker Center's handy comparison chart, where I saw that three of the four featured brokerages essentially charged no IRA custodian fees, and the fourth charged $0 to $25.]

TwiddleDom then beat me to the punch, inviting Kevin to visit our IRA Center, which offers its own even more detailed comparison chart, as well as lots of information on Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs, and more.

It's important to not pay more than you have to for services such as IRA account maintenance. If your account holds just $2,000, a $50 fee is lopping off 2.5%, which is considerable.

We've covered the critical topic of IRAs many times in Fooldom. Here are some articles that may be of interest:

Also of interest should be this Tim Hanson article, in which he describes how he set up his own IRA to operate on autopilot, investing in exchange-traded funds such as those that focus on the broad market and emerging markets. These give him instant exposure to regions such as India and China and companies such as Chevron, Intel, Verizon, Medtronic, and Qualcomm. If you're looking for ideas on ways to invest your IRA money, he presents some food for thought.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.