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Ask The Experts: Retirement Savings 101

I recently finished grad school, have a stable job, and have a plan to pay off my student loans in the next 5 years. I budget to save about $400 a month. I know I should put some this away for retirement (especially since my 403b doesn't start until next July), but I don't know where to start. I've looked into a Roth IRA, but I'm willing to be very aggressive with the hopes of long-term yields. Where do I go to get help opening an IRA/investing? – Josh, MA

Josh: While I admire you for wanting to start an IRA so early, I would suggest you consider building an emergency fund first that is equivalent to 6-12 months worth of your living expenses.

Once that is accomplished you can fund your 403(b) account at work on a pre-tax basis. If you still have extra money left over and qualify to save more money in a Roth, you can contact any custodian such as Schwab, Vanguard, or Fidelity and a representative can help you with the account opening process and walk you through the paperwork.

To put yourself at an advantage, you should put your savings on autopilot and automate the process by allowing the custodian to debit your checking account once per month for an amount you indicate.

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Bill Losey, CFP®, CSA, America's Retirement Strategist®, is the resident retirement planning

expert on CNBC’s “On the Money”. He has been named one of America’s Top Financial Planners and is the author of Retire in a Weekend! The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Making Work Optional. He also publishes Retirement Intelligence, a free weekly award-winning newsletter. Bill can be reached online at www.MyRetirementSuccess.com.