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ok, maybe i'm a real idiot (and actually, i know i'm not), but what i have read here about the differences between these investment vehicles (ira--roth & traditional, 401(k), and index funds) still leaves me confused.

if 401(k)s are so great, why would you need/want an ira? or an index fund? if index funds are so great, why would you need/want a 401(k)? or an ira? etc, etc, etc.

i read a response to a similar question that used a "box" analogy that someone else thought was really great--sorry, i still didn't get it. is there anyone out there who can explain this in virtual baby talk? it would make me a joyous one indeed. :)
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