Certain restrictions go along with an individual retirement account, and one is that you can't borrow from it. You can't even pledge it as collateral for a loan. In either case the amount would be included in your current income, and if you're under 59 1/2 years old, you'd have to pay penalties as well.

But if you need money for only a short period, you can in effect borrow from your IRA.

The law allows you to remove money without triggering current income or penalties if you roll the exact amount removed into another IRA within 60 days. And there you have it: interest-free use of the funds for a short-term need. Still, you can't make a habit of this: you can use the 60-day maneuver only once a year.