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TheStreet Open House

Stop Singing the 401(k) Blues

The following is a transcript of " Money Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life, " a podcast from QuickAndDirtyTips.com . The audio program is available via RSS feed here and at TheStreet.com's podcast home page .

Hello and welcome to Money Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life.

Today's topic: What should you do if your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan?

A listener named Tiffany called in with this question:

Hi, Money Girl. My name is Tiffany and I'm calling with a question. My question is if you already have an IRA and your company does not offer a 401(k), what's the next best way to start saving for retirement? Thank you.

Thanks for the question, Tiffany.

An IRA Is the Place to Start

Because your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan, putting money away into an IRA is a smart thing to do, especially if you're eligible for a Roth, which is tax free, or tax-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA. It's smart to make use of these tax-advantaged ways to invest for retirement.

Now, in your case, Tiffany, it sounds like you're already contributing the maximum to an IRA, which is great. So where should you look next?

Save Outside of a Tax-Advantaged Plan

Beyond a tax-advantaged IRA, you'll want to save and invest through a regular brokerage account. While you won't get the tax advantages you get with a 401(k) or IRA, you'll have a wide range of investment choices available to you, and you can still invest in a tax-efficient way.

Before beginning to invest with a brokerage account, be sure to first put away at least three to six months' worth of living expenses in an emergency fund. Also consider your other financial goals and how your retirement plan fits into the bigger picture. You may need to balance saving for retirement with other goals such as saving for a down payment on a house.

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