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Hello Fools..

I'm just starting with all this (at my tender age of 21) and am still trying to get my head wrapped around a few things.

First, my current employer currently offers a 401k program, but we do not have an index available, and since we are a startup they do not offer any sort of matching either. When it was first offered, I signed up to have the maximum amount put into it, which I have been contributing since. Is this still a good investment? The fund I have it in has beaten the market over the past 10 years, but not over the past 5. Would it be more Foolish to not invest in the 401k and instead invest in the market myself with that same money? (I would think not, but I'm not sure)

Also, I've done a decent amount of reading on the Roth IRAs and am currently opening one, but still have a few questions about a few things I don't understand.

a) From what I've read you can take out what you put into a Roth IRA with no penalties at any time, you just can't take out profits until you're 59 1/2. Is that right? It doesn't seem like it is, but maybe so.

b) Suppose I have a Roth IRA, and invest the maximum 2000 a year into it. Now, if I invest that money in the stock market, and occasionaly move stock around, do I have to pay capital gains taxes when I sell a stock for more than I bought it for, even if the money stays in the IRA and goes back into other stock? I can't seem to find any information pertaining to that, and I'm led to believe that I would have to pay taxes on it.

That's it.. Thanks for the advice guys.

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