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Hello all...

First off I didn't mean to rub my age in anyone's face (you old farts! haha) but I do believe that it is the focal point of my post.

Background: I recently graduated from college (UD, May '04), I am working as a waitor for the summer and also as a substitute teacher come September. I will be relocating to St Thomas, USVI (from NJ) this coming October. As everyone always asks, "what will you be doing down there?"... I don't know yet and because of that I am not factoring that into any plans as of yet (ie. future income, benefits, etc...). I WILL be generating income, and hopefully be provided with a benefits package. I just haven't decided if I want to "work" as a charter boat captain and sail around the islands (read: low cost of living and much enjoyment) or stay on land and work in my field of criminal justice. It is very difficult to obtain employment (and housing) unless you are "on island" which is why this is still unplanned. I'm well aware that this will affect the early stages of my retirement planning, but that is where I am at and will have to work around it.

Issue: I want to start saving for retirement. I will "retire" early, it is a major goal of mine. I have begun taking 10% out of my pay and putting it aside (in cash) in order to be used for my first investment. Now the question is where to first invest?

Since I am new to investing and also on the young side I am taking the advice of many and allocating most, if not all, of my savings into the stock market, probably via a Vanguard Index of some sort. (While I may have the time to do the research on individual stocks I do not yet feel comfortable with my level of knowledge about the market.)

Now should I open that as an IRA/Roth, or just as a plain equity account? What are the pros and cons of each?

Secondly, is there any other type of investment I should be looking at given my age and circumstances? If my future employer offers a 401K it goes without saying that I will be contributing, however as stated above I don't yet know if that will be the case.

Finally (I think), I am not afraid to take risks. I am young, I like volatility (makes things interesting), and I know what I have to lose/gain. However, I AM just recently increasing my level of education in the world of investment and personal finance, so I question everything. Also the only debt I have is a student loan of $17K with a fixed rate of 1.8% and the first year's worth of payments are already stored away in an account.

If you have any advice, opinions, or anecdotes please feel free to share.


Kyle
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