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roll it DIRECTLY to individual IRA

Depends on the poster's age and retirement plans. If the 401K allows penalty free withdrawals at 55, it's something to consider BEFORE rolling it to an IRA. (and yes, there are 72t distributions from IRAs but that's a much longer post)

On the other part of the OP's post, I'd fund a Roth IRA now BUT it should really be part of an overall financial plan that includes many other pieces so doesn't work that well in a vacuum.
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