I just opened an IRA account on TDAmeritrade.com. I only put in several thousand dollars as a starter, just for exploring the interface.

I have never had an IRA account or even read much documentation about it yet. I previously already have an normal stock account with TDAmeritrade and are familiar with the basics.

My first dumb question is: what and how to buy stuff in the IRA account? Can I buy normal stocks? What else can I buy or is good to buy in an IRA?

Update: Thanks for all the kind replies and comments. I purchased a few shares of SPDR S&P 500 ETF.

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    "What else can I buy or is good to buy in an IRA?" You can buy lots of thing ("stuff") but there are certain kinds of things that you are prohibited from owning inside an IRA, such as collectibles, precious metals, etc. Consult Publication 590 for details of what is not permitted. – Dilip Sarwate Jun 13 '15 at 19:20
  • What is "Publication 590"? Some term-like thing without qualifying phrase is hard to understand. – qazwsx Jun 13 '15 at 19:31
  • Publication 590 (now split into two parts) is an IRS publication (available for free download on irs.gov). It tells you all except the most esoteric stuff about IRAs. – Dilip Sarwate Jun 13 '15 at 19:38
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    The IRS has a series of book(lets) published, all titled as "Publication XXX". Any income tax related topic is covered by one or more of these publications. If you google "Publication 590", that would be the first result. – littleadv Jun 13 '15 at 19:49
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    @qazwsx - Often, it seems easier to get a good search result if you know what you're looking for. In this case, simply entering Publication 590 would get you right there. The brokers don't usually offers copies. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 13 '15 at 21:15

You can buy stocks in the IRA, similarly to your regular investment account. Generally, when you open an account with a retail provider like TDAmeritrade, all the options available for you on that account are allowable.

Keep in mind that you cannot just deposit money to IRA. There's a limit on how much you can deposit a year ($5500 as of 2015, $6500 for those 50 or older), and there's also a limit on top of that - the amount you deposit into an IRA cannot be more than your total earned income (i.e. income from work).

In addition, there are limits on how much of your contribution you can deduct (depending on your income and whether you/your spouse have an employer-sponsored retirement plan).

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