Despite Wednesday's recovery from steep losses earlier in the week, the major U.S. stock averages are on track for their biggest monthly percentage losses in five years or more. That means your retirement portfolio, your 401(k)s and IRAs, may have lost value as well.
But there may be a silver lining to this market slide. For retirement investors, this could be a great time to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. A Roth account provides tax-free growth and allows you to withdraw earnings tax-free after age 59½, as long as you've held any Roth IRA for at least five years.
When you convert a tax-deferred, traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you have to pay income taxes on the money you convert. So a dip in the value of your retirement portfolio means you could save big on taxes you'll pay upfront.
"I love this idea," said Tim Maurer, director of personal finance at BAM Alliance. "You've not so much 'lost'' money in your IRA, but you're taking advantage of a decline, thereby paying less in taxes for the same expected tax-free outcome."