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sockiboo, you asked:

<< forgive my ignorance, but i work as a contractor, and the no-frills agency that i work through doesn't offer a 401k. is there some sort of tax-advantaged investment for retirement available to me, other than the traditional or Roth IRA that everyone can have? that's only 2,000 a year, and i'd like to put away more of my income than that. i'll save the money regardless, but it would be nice to have the tax advantage. since i'm not self-employed, i don't think i'm eligible for a SEP or SIMPLE IRA, but i don't know all the ins and outs . . . is there a good option for someone like me? >>

There are quite a few options that can give you "tax advantages". Don't forget that the amount one can put into IRA's is increasing over the next couple of years from $2,000 per year to $5,000. Otherwise, Annuities are one of the first things that comes to mind along a long term buy and hold position in stocks (particularly those that don't generate dividend income). In addition, if you plan to carry life insurance for 20 years or more, some form of UL (Universal Life) contract might be explored.

You may want to see if there is some viable way for you to work as an independent contractor with this agency you work for. If it can be done, then you would have access to thinks like a Simple IRA etc. that can allow you larger contributions. But . . . . just because you may not have access to tax sheltered vehicles like a 401(k) should keep you from investing the amount you want to even if it has not tax shelter at all. Just do it!
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