Not long ago most people’s retirement plan consisted of counting on Social Security and participating in their company’s 401(k) plan, if it existed, or perhaps playing the stock market. The rising federal deficit, the economic downturn, and the volatile stock market have all contributed to shaking up the ‘traditional’ plan for retirement. We are in a new age of retirement planning.

The 401(k) was introduced three decades ago as a way for workers to supplement existing retirement savings. Since that time it has evolved to be the primary, and often only, retirement strategy for many people. However, the success of allowing individuals to design investment strategies in the volatile world of the stock market does not have a strong track record and some research suggests that the majority of gains in portfolios are the result of increased contributions rather than solid underlying investments.

In this new reality of retirement planning it’s important to consider alternatives to traditional approaches to investment savings. One contender to consider is precious metals. Yes, you can invest in actual gold and silver within your retirement accounts. In fact, by utilizing the CheckBook IRA structure, pairing a self-directed IRA with an LLC, you can hold approved gold or silver as part of your investment account AND have the added advantage to hold those approved physical precious metals in your own home, thus reducing third-party risk and avoiding altogether the use of ETF (exchange-traded funds). This gives you more control over your own investments and can reduce your exposure to financial firms mismanaging your money.

Additionally, precious metals have proven over the years to be a sound protection against inflation. With the ever-increasing federal deficit and Washington at multiple impasses when considering how to best manage that crisis, inflation may be just beyond the horizon. It’s important to consider your approaches to investment with this in mind.

As the landscape of retirement planning shifts it’s essential to revisit your portfolio and examine your strategies. No single instrument is the magic wand and research indicates that making regular contributions is perhaps the best approach to grow your retirement savings. Diversity is important in this landscape, however, and using a self-directed IRA and LLC to investment in precious metals can offer you opportunities and control not available in other products. Be sure to consider them in this new era of retirement planning.