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I'm 23 years old and working as a temporary project engineer for a pharmaceutical company. A few years ago family members, thinking themselves Wise, advised me to invest my dollars with their full-service broker. Having full faith in their Wisdom, I followed their advice, and my new broker invested my money into a small cap and a growth portfolio with Alger as well as another portfolio called the Ariel Appreciation Fund. Since then these funds have grown to $2K, $2K, and $3K, respectively. Then I read TMFIG.

I checked out the funds in which my broker invested and found that they have underperformed the market by a considerable margin, and that over the past year the small cap actually posted a NEGATIVE 1% return. Needless to say, I'm pissed.

I know I need to get that money out, and I also know that I need to start putting money away for retirement. However, as I am merely a "temp", I receive no benefits. I mean zilch. I know that 401K contributions are tax deductible, and that IRA contributions are only tax deferred if you participate in your company's retirement plan. But what if you don't? Are the IRA contributions now tax deductible?

My current plan, until I feel confident enough to invest in stocks myself, is to put the $2K from the small cap in to an IRA fund like Vanguard. Is this Foolish? Any recommendations on what to do with the rest of the money in the meantime?

Also, are there any web sites that you can download quotes to a spreadsheet that are reasonably priced (or free)?
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