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Greetings, MMollygirl, and welcome. You wrote:

<<Please forgive me for re-hashing a topic that I've read a lot about, but I'm simply having trouble understanding it all and need some down-to-earth language. I'm 26 yrs old and trying to get together the information I need to begin a retirement account. I am self-employed (theatre technician) and every dollar I use to invest is after-tax. What would be the best option for me?

Also, as I understand it, with a Roth IRA, I could only contribute $2000/year. Would I be able to contribute more with other plans? Since my occupation is quite vigorous physically, I really don't see myself doing it in 25 or 30 years, and would like to contribute as much as possible to plan for the worst.

Also, I've recently begun investing (only $1000 so far to get my feet wet) and am wondering if the best course of action would be to transfer those stocks to my retirement plan, or keep them as is?

You and you alone have to decide what's "best" for you as that differs from person to person depending on your goals, tax situation, income, etc.

If you are truly self-employed, your retirement investment options are not restircted to something that's just "after-tax." As a self-employed person you may use a tax deferred plan like a SEP, SIMPLE or Keogh to set aside a substantial part of your income on a pre-tax basis. All potentially (it depends on your net self-employed income)will let you contribute far more than the $2K of an IRA For more information on these plans, see my Foolish Retirement Plan Primer at You should also download and read IRS Publication 560 (Retirement Plans for Small Business) available at

As to your stocks, those must remain in your taxable account as they cannot be transferred to one of the self-employed plans or to an IRA.

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