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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 201  
Subject: Re: Invest $1500 now or wait for IRA/Car? Date: 7/21/2011 12:30 PM
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kkch3n,

You wrote, I'm 22 and I start my job in September.

After accounting for an emergency fund of $1500, I have $1500 left over. However, I will soon have to buy a car so that I can get to work. (My dad is going to pay for the car in full and I plan to get him back ASAP with interest) Also, I believe that I will finally have the option of opening an IRA once my job starts? (not quite sure about IRA requirements)

What I want to do is invest that $1500 (I'm thinking Teradata, Panera Bread, and BRK-B).

What do you think I should do with $1500? Thanks!


Well $1,500 isn't that much for an emergency fund; but I'll accept that since you'll be living at home. Bear in mind that a fully funded e-fund should be 3 to 6 months worth of living expenses; but even if you can live on less than $500/month, $1,500 won't cover many serious real-world emergencies.

Also if your employer offers a 401k, be sure to participate at least up to the match. And up to the limit if you can handle it. Better to get into the habit of setting money aside when you're young than wait until you are my age (46). Besides, any money you put into a 401k gets special tax treatment.

If you are covered by a retirement plan at work, the deduct-ability of a traditional IRA will be limited. Read here: http://www.irs.gov/retirement/article/0,,id=202510,00.html

Instead you'll probably have to use a Roth IRA. (A Roth IRA is probably best if you're just starting out in your career in any case.) With a $50K income, you won't be near the income cap. You can chose a broker or mutual fund company to hold your Roth IRA and contributions of up to $5,000/year. Anything you earn in that account will be tax-free and you can withdraw the original contributions at any time without penalty. You can even use it to hold your e-fund, not that I'd recommend it.

Finally, you can invest in whatever you like in a Roth IRA (not true in a 401k), however you should be careful about investing in too small an amount when buying individual securities. With small transactions, trading costs can quickly eat up any profits you generate. (I'll let others nit-pick your investment choices.)

- Joel
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