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I know that an IRA will tax me now rather than later, but does that make it worth it?

Only a Roth IRA will tax you on the money before you put it in, and allow to be tax free during withdraws. Traditional IRAs give you a tax break up front and charge you income tax on your withdraws later.

Also, an IRA of either type will only allow you to put in $2000 per year, unless it is a roll-over from another retirement account.

Or is any type of fund not such a good idea?

If you want to just "set it, and forget it", then an index fund (or their stock-like cousins SPY for S&P 500, QQQ for NASDAQ) are the easiest way to make sure you "keep up" with the market.

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