all your advice works. i know because i have followed those steps since my early to mid-20s when, as a self-employed freelance journalist, i opened what was then called a keough account. those were pre-cursors of today’s ira’s. i always socked the limit into those, and soon opened an ira, as well as a 401k and a roth when they became available. i also opened fidelity and later, vanguard, mutual fund accounts. i always saved more than i spent, probably at least half my pay, which was never higher than about $65k during all the years i worked in journalism. true, my friends always liked to joke that i was “cheap,” but who’s laughing now? i crossed the $1m line in late 04, quit full-time work at age 51 and do exactly as i please with myself today, which is mainly being a semi-pro musician, the career the i almost established when i was in college. mercifully, i don’t have to live off it today. my main advice is to avoid credit-card debt. i am always astonished by how much people carry. ive never carried any. my debts are always limited to mortgage and, at times, car loans. i could own fancier cars and houses, but i have never felt the need, unlike my cash rich, but investment-poor friends. i live off corporate junk bonds today, plus music and random freelancing. my goal is to get to about $1.5m, get 80 percennt out of today’s way too unstable stock market, and live off mostly fixed income investments. way down the road, ill add social security, and a pension from the 25-years-plus i worked in newspapers. it can be done. the millionaire-next-door exists all around us.
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Harris, I think it depends on several factors. First, I recommend having a well established emergency fund that will be enough to cover several months living expenses. This will help you cover any unexpected expenses and avoid taking out additional debt. Next consider other short/medium term goals. For example, are you saving to buy a house, do you need to replace your car in the next two or three years, etc. Finally, consider the interest rates of your student loans and what you may be able to earn in an IRA and decide which option is best for your needs. Investing for retirement now could be a huge benefit for you and your wife when you reach retirement age, but eliminating debt increases cash flow and gives you peace of mind. Both options are solid. Best of luck.
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