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I've decided to start an IRA for my husband. This has been on my mind for a while, but I found out that it can make the difference between paying Uncle Sam and getting money back, so this seems like a good time to do it.

Most likely it will start with a couple of Vanguard index funds and it will be some time before individual stocks might be added to it. It looks like I could go directly to Vanguard, but it also appears that the fees might be lower if I purchase through Scottrade.

My husband hasn't been paying into a retirement fund since July. He's changed jobs twice since then, and may again before he qualifies at 6 months at his current job. We were thinking that it would be smart to just start putting a percentage of his earnings into a retirement account any time he isn't paying into one through work. He started saving for retirement really late and we don't have time to waste. Now that I'm seeing that there are limits on paying into an IRA, maybe that wouldn't work, at least when we hit the limit for the year.

Another thing I've run into is it is not obvious as to how money trickling in from paychecks through the year gets into the IRA. Does the IRA have a cash part to it for that? Do we have to hold the money somewhere and purchase shares at the minimum amount? Also, what if we want the contributions to automatically be allocated by percentage into different funds?

These probably sound like stupid questions, but I haven't found anything that spells it out.

Any input would be appreciated.

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