The very first thing to realize about your Roth IRA is that you can take out your contributions at any time, without any penalty at all. Because you pay taxes on your income before you put it in the Roth IRA, you aren’t getting a tax benefit until later. So, if you put $500 in your Roth IRA today, you can withdraw it next week, without penalty. However, you can only withdraw your contribution money. If you withdraw more money than you contributed, dipping into your earnings, you have to pay your penalties on that portion of your withdrawal.