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Take a breath Fool! If you truly are looking at a 15 year horizon you have time, but it will take discipline. Like the previous replies, I suggest you start reading. In terms of the IRA, get it working for you as soon as possible. Don't be afraid to invest in stocks with the potential for better returns. In order to make it work, however, you have to be careful. Your credit card debt is a serious problem if not handled correctly. You may think of a few things, though the decision is ultimately yours :

1. Stop paying triple on your cards. It is important you make payments and whittle away at it, but the extra money invested properly could get you better returns than what you pay in interest, which in the long run (your 15 years) could pay off. Not only that, High credit card balances are generally a detterrent to future use.

2. You need to start living "below your means". Read the book "The Millionaire Next Door". it is a pretty good book that will show you that the rich in America are generally middle class Americans who know how to manage their money. It is not too late for you. If you want to retire in 15 years, you can do it if you are committed to it, but it is not an easy task.

3. Obviously, your IRA will start growing Tax-defferred. Take advantage of this and manage it appropriately. The worst thing you can do is panic and try to get in and out with maximum gain. Find good stocks (there are lots of tips here) and be ready to hold them for a longer period to optimize your gain. Adding to your investments on a monthly basis will help you dollar-cost average. This can be a godsend in your situation.

Good Luck to you, and study Foolishly!
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