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woofgrrl: i've been with an investment advisor up to this point all caught up in tax-defered mutual funds... i'm soon going to make the break from this guy and assume responsibility for my own money management. my question is, can i roll the tax-defered mutual funds over in to something else tax-defered without a penalty? can anyone point me in the direction of some good links to research this?

Good decision. I did the same 12 months ago after watching the mutual funds in the IRA managed by my financial advisor languish. Not to fault that advisor; when we first went there, I had zero knowledge or confidence to manage these myself. But all the conversations started my curiosity, and that ultimately led me to read The Motley Fool Investment Guide [which you should read if you haven't].

I started with a cash account at E*Trade a couple years ago, did a little investing, had success (Yes, I know, any monkey could have during this bull market..).... felt knowledgeable and confident enough to take on my IRA.

So, a year ago, I paid a penalty (to AmEx, not IRS) for closing that account, rolled it into an IRA at E*Trade. And now, a year later, I didn't just beat the Dow, didn't just beat the S&P, didn't just beat the NASDAQ: my IRA increased by a factor of 2.5 times in one year. Careful research was the heart of it, along with following a lot of the materials here on these boards. There's no guarantee of results, of course, and I fully recognize that I was simply lucky in some good choices.

But I would encourage you to continue. Look at brokerage firms like E*Trade and the others -- they all have IRA accounts and can accept roll-overs. The IRS allows the roll overs. I had to pay a penalty for breaking my contract with the advisor, and that may or may not apply in your situation. I'll tell you this: it was one of the best penalties (yes, in retrospect) I've ever had to pay!

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