Hello Mark and Welcome to Fooldom:If I understand your post correctly, these are your facts:1) There are financial reasons for you to keep your assets below $20,000 exclusive of funds saved for retirement; 2) You are 27;3) You want to save money for retirement, a house, and a trip;4) You are not qualified to participate in your employer's 401(k) until next Fall; and5) You are new to investing and are looking for a good way to accomplish that.Here is my general advice:1) Go ahead and start the IRA. Put as much as you can afford to in it (subject to the limits of course). For more about IRA's see http://www.fool.com/money/allaboutiras/allaboutiras.htm?ref=RTRiras2) Saving for the house? How much more do you need to save. If you plan on purchasing the house within the next two years (some would say five years), I would not invest this money in the stock market. It is hard to time the market, and you certainly don't want to lose your savings on your downpayment. If you have more time, consider an index mutual fund. See, #4 below.3) Trip? Assuming you are doing this in the next 12 months, I'd save this money in your savings account as well. 4) Suggestions on good IRAs or socially responsible mutual funds? Yes, take a good hard look at an S&P 500 Index Fund. Here is a good article by TMF Max on the benefits of an S&P 500 Index Fund: http://www.fool.com/school/mutualfunds/indexfunds/sp500.htm?ref=MTFs500)5) Get all over that 401(k) next fall. Take full advantage of it, especially to the point where you have maxed out your employer's contributions (or "matching"). Here is a good article on why you would want to use your 401(k) and a description of the limited circumstances where you might not: http://www.fool.com/retirement/retireeport/2000/retireeport001023.htm6) Read. Read books. Read the information on this site. Consider signing up for one of the Fool's on-line seminar's--there is one on Retirement next month.7) Post any additional follow-up questions too.Hope this was helpful,Chris ("Holmesfam")
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