The Individual Retirement Account (IRA) brings together two tremendously powerful forces, both of which benefit you: 1) compound interest, and 2) tax savings.

If you've got money that you can afford to invest for the long term, there's really no reason not to open an IRA. Lethargy is not a good reason. Inertia is not a good reason. Keeping your eyes wide shut about your future is not a good reason. Compound interest becomes even more powerful when it is not held back by the drag coefficient of taxes.

In those golden years, you want to be able to go out and buy the gold-plated golf clubs, jet out to Hawaii to circle the big island on a dolphin's back, savor the flavor of fine French food, make generous contributions to a cause that stirs your passions, or hire a trainer to help you get in shape for your Space Shuttle mission. You also want the opportunity to become your family's Most Beloved Ancestor -- the more you save, and the more you have at the end of the day, the more you're likely to have left over to spread around to your heirs. So you're really doing everyone a favor -- yourself included.

The language of IRAs is often clouded with terms like "AGI" and "minimum distributions" and "rollovers." Yes, you'll find those self-same terms here, but we'll do our best to make it all meaningful and digestible. To that end we've added a little glossary to have as a handy reference.

So, here we present most everything you'd like to know about IRAs. Your mouth will drop open in glad delirium as you learn that there are actually 11 (count 'em, 11!) types of IRAs. You'll find out about the eight exceptions to the 10% penalty. You'll journey through the land of Roth, and determine whether you should take advantage of the IRA that carries its name. (Hey! This is starting to sound like an epic!) You'll learn about Education IRAs, contribution/deduction limits, and rollovers.

Here we've gathered together the far-flung strands of IRA trivia in Fooldom, and arranged them in one easy-to-use, easy-to-print collection.

Adjust your screen for maximum viewing pleasure -- fire up the printer, if you so choose -- and read on!