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I have now thoroughly confused myself so I hope a fellow Fool can clarify for me.....

I am thinking of openening a Roth IRA but I also plan on buying a house in 1 1/2 to 2 years. I most likely will need the $3000 I use to open an IRA as down payment money when I do buy but it is possible that I won't. I want to plan for a Foolish retirement and open my IRA now but I am afraid I will incur taxes and penalties if I try to withdraw my money for a new house downpayment before the 5 year time frame is up.

Now if I understand correctly what I just read I can withrdaw my contributions (not earnings, just contributions) from my Roth at any time, even before the 5 year time frame is up, penalty and tax free.

Is this so? What am I missing here? Any advice from more informed Fools would be most welcome.

Thanx.
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