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How to get started

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Saving for retirement is a common investment goal, and certain accounts — like 401(k)s and IRAs — are set up specifically for that purpose. Often the holder will pay some sort of penalty if they withdraw funds too early or for a reason other than retirement.

Luckily, if you're offered a 401(k) at work, it's pretty easy to get started. The accounts are typically funded through payroll deductions and may include a contribution match by your employer.

But suppose you don't have a 401(k). You can open an individual retirement account, such as a Roth or traditional IRA. Just be sure to compare the two,as they vary in tax benefits, contribution limits and income requirements. Many banks offer IRA or Roth IRA accounts. SoFi, Ally Invest and Schwab are some examples of places you can open a retirement account.

If you're saving for something other than retirement or need access to your money more quickly, you can opt for a taxable brokerage account, with a company like Fidelity, TD Ameritrade or Vanguard, instead.That means you'll have to pay taxes on any investment income within the account. This can include selling a stock or when your cash balance earns interest. It's important to note that these gains or income are taxable in the tax year they were earned — not when they are withdrawn.

Unlike retirement accounts which have restrictions on when you can withdraw funds, taxable brokerage accounts allow you to deduct money at any time. Since these accounts offer no tax advantages, there are no restrictions on when and how you can withdraw your money or how much you can contribute.

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