Don\’t let the panic of Wall Street and the uncertainty of the economy stop you from saving and investing with your IRA or 401(k). Like real estate, which is expected to show some signs of rebounding toward year end, the market will eventually rise. Yes, it may be awhile and no one has a crystal ball to predict exactly when. However, we can position ourselves to be prepared so we can prosper and use common sense to protect our individual retirement accounts. Here are 3 steps you can take today to prepare, prosper and protect your IRA in 2009.

1. Educate yourself. We must take control of our financial future. Do you think your financial professional will be around to take care of you financially in your old age? No, I don\’t think so. The only person you can depend on to take care of you is YOU. Educating yourself on the risks and rewards of an investment will prepare you to know what to do and what to expect when the right investment opportunity comes along. Isn\’t that better then going in blind, especially in light of the recent Ponsi schemes that are out there?

2. Diversification. Don\’t put all of your eggs in one basket. A truly self-directed IRA gives you the ability to invest in alternatives such as real estate, water, wind, and other investments that could help your IRA prosper on a tax-deferred or tax-free basis. I am still a firm believer of real estate for my own portfolio but that does not necessarily mean that is the only investment I would make. Think about what you value and have at least one investment that matches your values in your portfolio. For example, green investing. If you are a believer in Green you might consider investing in solar energy.

3. Cash accounts must be protected. I cannot stress enough that you need to protect your IRA. Make sure any cash you have with an administrator or custodian is insured. With the uncertainty in the markets and the banking industry especially hard hit, not all custodians or administrators are equal. If you are looking for a third party administrator who will protect your cash in FDIC insured institutions, visit www.theentrustgroup.com.

When you are prepared and when you protect your assets, you have a better chance of prospering and financial peace of mind.

Lisa Moren Bromma has been a real estate investor since 1978, a note investor since 1998 and has worked with some of the top private mortgage institutional buyers. She is special advisor to The Entrust Group, the nation\’s largest network of self-directed IRA administrators, and the author of Real Estate Investing for the Utterly Confused, and Wise Women Invest in Real Estate. Visit her web sites at www.wisewomeninvestor.com and www.theentrustgroup.com.