For personal investors, the wonderful upside of tax free accumulation of wealth in an IRA is offset by the disadvantage of not having access to the money. You usually cannot withdraw savings from an IRA without a penalty, but like most rules, there are exceptions. This article from Forbes by Eric Fox points out five such circumstances.
The article states:
The conventional wisdom among most Americans is that money in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is locked up until age 59.5, and can’t be withdrawn without paying taxes and a 10% penalty on early distributions. The reality is that there are multiple exceptions to the 10% penalty that allows individuals to take money out for a range of reasons, including buying a first home to medical to education.
Read the article for the details on the five circumstances in which you can withdraw your money penalty free. It is good to know that the IRS does have a heart after all!