An IRA gets you started at a lower cost since the contribution limits are much lower, and if you invest wisely, that money can grow exponentially. You could end up with millions of dollars for retirement that would otherwise be gone after taxes take their share. And if you don't have a lot of money to start with, there's always a way to make it work.
The contribution limits are much lower compared to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. When you contribute money to a traditional IRA, the contribution is tax deductible. The money grows without taxes until it is distributed. Taxes are owed when the funds are withdrawn, so the tax benefits of an IRA usually outweighs any penalties for taking out funds early.
There are several different types of IRAs that individuals can contribute to, however in most cases it is not necessary to open up a separate IRA account. There is a simple process called a backdoor IRA which allows you to make a non-deductible contribution first and then converting the funds into a Roth IRA later. This process helps to prevent any taxable income in the following year.