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Can my 11-year-old open an IRA?

May 18, 2013: 6:30 AM ET

My 11-year-old earns money umpiring baseball games. Can he open an IRA? Will it affect his college aid? — Rick Gross, Avon, Conn.

Assuming Junior is willing, a Roth IRA (which grows and can be tapped tax-free) is a home run. In 2013 he can put in the lesser of $5,500 or his earned income. Does he earn just a few hundred dollars? You'll need a firm with a low minimum, such as Charles Schwab.

Don't worry about college. IRAs aren't used to set federal aid. Though about 260 schools doling out aid ask about IRAs, retirement money is counted only sometimes, such as when a wealthy family has split up assets, says FinAid.org publisher Mark Kantrowitz.

Your son may make too little to file taxes, says H&R Block's Gil Charney, but it's not a bad idea to save W-2s or 1099s proving earned income.

— Stephanie AuWerter

Got a question for the Help Desk? Send it to helpdesk@cnnmoney.com.

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