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The main reason I'm here is because the company I work for took away our pension, and the 401k they have isn't the greatest I've ever seen, so I'd like to start investing on my own to make sure my wife and I don't go broke when we're older.

The Fool is an excellent resource, and it looks like you've taken the most important step of all - taking control of your own personal finances.

You said that the company 401k isn't the greatest. One question I'd ask you... is there any company matching at all? If so, even if the offerings are not what you might hope, the matching will virtually always more than make up for them.

401k, IRAs (traditional vs. Roth), taxable investments... it all gets so confusing, doesn't it?

There are plenty of articles and resources on all of these here at the Fool. If you go to the homepage, over on the left you'll see a long list of topics. Sounds like you might want to start by reading what you can on the subjects of investing basics, 401k's, IRAs, mutual funds... just take a look at what's there and dive in.

From my experience there is generally one path that works well for many people (though not all) - and you'll want to read and learn and make sure this works best for you, because it very well might not.

I think following these steps in order will work out pretty well for many people planning for retirement.

#1: Get out of debt, especially high interest credit card debt.
#2: Build an emergency fund (so you can avoid having to repeat step #1).
#3: Invest in a 401K up to the point where you max-out on company matches.
#4: Invest in an IRA (traditional or Roth, depending on your circumstances) up to the maximum.
#5: Finish maxing out 401k contributions (you've already maxed-out on matching at this point, but at least you're still getting tax deferral).
#6: Invest in a taxable account.

My fellow Fools might see this differently - and again, there is no one size fits all approach - including the approach above! I simply offer it as a starting point and an idea of what would work for many people - but everyone's situtation is unique.

I would strongly encourage you to read what you can on all of these topics, and if you have any questions along the way I'm sure there will be plenty of people to help you out.



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