NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It happens to the best of us: April 15 creeps up for months and sprints to the finish, leaving so little time for last-minute moves such as funding an IRA. Happily, this doesn't have to be the headache it seems.
The looming deadline does matter, as today is the last day to contribute for 2013. If you are eligible to deduct your contribution, it can produce a nice tax saving right away. And even if you'll get no deduction, your 2013 contribution can enjoy tax-deferred growth for decades. Whether you can deduct your full contribution, a maximum of $5,500, or $6,500 if you are 50 or older, depends on your income and whether you or your spouse have a retirement plan at work. Here's a calculator for this.
Brokerages, banks and mutual fund companies make IRA enrollment easy with online signup. With little time to weigh options, you can open an account, put your contribution into a money market for the time being, then move it to a more suitable investment after doing some research.
But don't wait too long. Vanguard Group, the mutual fund giant, found that last-minute contributions that went into cash such as money-market funds tended to stay there for months. That could have been costly in 2013, because the stock market soared early, then kept on going.
Investors who don't want to do a lot of investment research, or feel unequipped for it, have a couple of easy options.