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If I were you I would:

1. At your salary level you are not in a very high tax bracket, therefore I would suggest that you definitely contribute to your 401K at least up to the percentage that your company matches--It's virtually 'free' money after all.

2. Next I would contribute the max to a Roth IRA.

3. Next I would build an 'emergency' fund of about 6-8 months living expenses in case you get laid off, hospitalized, whatever...(stuff does happen)

4. Only after all of the above would I consider a brokerage account.

As to what funds to invest in in the 401K--I invest the bulk into an index fund (about 50%) and I play with the other 50% in other funds. Last year I invested $4000 into a tech fund with high loads and high expenses in my 401K and managed to net a nice 38% return in 6 months. I then jumped ship with my $5600 back into the index. You just have to decide what percentage of your total contribution you want to play with, and then decide how much time you're willing to put in tracking all the riskier plays.

Well, that's what I would do...


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