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Greetings, Steve, and welcome.

<<I start a new job next week. They offer a 401(k) plan that matches .50 per dollar up to 6% contributed. A fairly common practice, but by old company did not have a contribution.

In the past I have always contributed to my 401(k) for the tax savings and for the "free" money when I had a plan that matched. Now that I'm learning the ways of the Fool I'm not sure if I should still contribute to a 401(k) or put the money into stocks.

I am leaning to the more safe (I know it's a bad word!) 401(k) contribution. But, I'm very excited about the Fool concept of the dow dividend approach to investing in stocks.>>

You already said it……FREE MONEY. Contribute up to the 6% level in your 401k before you do anything else. Your employer will then give you 3%, and that match represents an immediate risk-free 50% return on your money. That's tough to beat in any alternative investment even when the investment choices in the 401k don't give you more than mediocre returns. If the plan has an index fund, so much the better. That option along with the employer's match will far surpass any Foolish strategy over the years.

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