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<we doubt that we can beat the returns with a taxable investment because our marginal tax rate (including state taxes) exceeds 45%>

You're only taxed when & if you sell, so you might look into Cash-King investing. The CK plan is to hang on to each stock for at least ten years of growth. Also, long term capital gains are only 20% after holding stocks for a year & a day. So don't be a day-trader!

<we are ineligible for the Roth IRA.>

Just remember that everybody is eligible to contribute non-deductible $$$ to a Traditional IRA, so you & the missus can start sheltering $4K/year total from taxes today.

Chris
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