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Just a thought about a different twist on a jump start to the Roth IRA. Does it work to open a new non-deductible traditional IRA for 1997, then contribute for 1998 resulting in a $4000 account, and roll it into a Roth IRA.

If this works, it cuts the commissions in half to invest on the Foolish Four for this year. Instead of commissions for 4 trades in the (1997 tax year) conversion Roth account and an additional commission for 4 trades in the second (1998 tax year) Roth account, one would only have commision on 4 trades total for a combined 1997 and 1998 conversion Roth account.
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