Guess what!


It's time to start thinking about your IRA again!

Nope, not doing it. I hate that stuff. You're going to give me that headache again.

No, seriously, you need to do this. Stocks are cheap right now. Money you invest now could lead to big returns over time.

You think this is the bottom? I'm not thinking this is the bottom. I could end up losing a bundle.

You'll only lose a bundle if you cash out early. You're not going to retire for a long time yet.

Yeah, too long. C'mon, stop. I'm starting to feel it in my forehead.

Dude, look at this. General Electric (NYSE:GE) is down to around $9 a share. Nine bucks! You could make a $5,000 IRA contribution, buy 500 shares, and have money left over. How much do you think GE stock is going to be worth in 15-20 years?

The guy on TV said that GE's financial services unit is going to blow the whole company up.

So get some Kleenex. Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) is under $50. Dividend yield's almost 5% at that price. Dividends are great right now -- that's 5% in your pocket no matter what the stock market does.

Yeah, but for how long?

You think people are going to give up Kleenex and toilet paper just because of a little global economic freak-out? OK, forget dividends. How about Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN)? Way oversold, I say. Its upcoming phone could be a big winner. Or Morningstar (NASDAQ:MORN)? It got sold way down because it’s classed as a "financial services" company and the whole sector got sold off. But it’s not a bank -- its balance sheet is in great shape!

Forget it. I don't have any money this year. Maybe next year.

That's what you said last year. Here's another one: Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO). It's a drug company that specializes in diabetes. You think that might be a growing market? It gets better: They've got a new diabetes drug in development where the side effect is weight loss.

Seriously, stop it. I don't have $5,000 sitting around right now. And if I did, I'd keep it somewhere I could get at it quickly.

You can get at it quickly in a Roth IRA. You don't get the tax deduction up front, but you can pull your original investment out any time without too much hassle. It's not a good place for an emergency fund, but as a backup to a real emergency fund it's not bad. And think: If you buy Morningstar in a Roth IRA and it doubles, that's all tax-free.

I still don't have the money right now. What am I going to do, put it on my credit card?

No no, don't do that. Bad plan.

No kidding.

But you still need to be saving more for retirement. You may not have noticed this, but your 401(k) kind of got clobbered last year. You need to make up some of that lost ground.

I'm maxed at work. They won't let me contribute any more.

So set up an automatic investing thing for the IRA. You know, something that automatically takes a little money out of your bank or brokerage account every month or whatever and puts it in the IRA. A couple hundred a month, you'll never miss it.

Uh-huh. And how would I do that?

Your IRA provider can do it for you. Almost all of the discount brokerages offer something like this. Automatic deductions as often as you want. They don't charge for it, either. I bet you can get it set up in a few minutes. C'mon, call them.

OK, suppose I do that, maybe put $200 in every two weeks. What do I do, buy two shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) every time? Maybe four shares of Costco (NASDAQ:COST)? I love those companies, but paying a commission on all those little trades isn't a cheap way to go.

There are lots of choices. Put the money in a no-fee index fund instead of buying stocks. Put it in a money market fund and let it accumulate for a few months, then buy the stocks. Or pick a good active fund and just put it in there instead. Let the manager worry about beating the market.

Oh geez, a fund. Then I've got to figure out how it fits with my other funds, the ones in my 401(k). It complicates my asset allocation picture, y'know? And I don't want to pay some advisor $600 to figure it out for me.

Oh, what a terrible problem to have. I'd play my special violin for you, but I can't find it without an electron microscope.

You're funny. Not.

You want asset allocation help? Hit the Rule Your Retirement thing at the Fool. Their model portfolios are what you need. Any questions, ask on the message board and they tell you what's what. It's easy. And way cheaper than that advisor guy.

It's still not free.

You can try it free for 30 days. They give you access to the whole thing. No charge, no obligation. You think you can get this figured out in 30 days?

OK, I'll give it a shot. But only if you promise to shut up.

Good plan. You won't be sorry. Click here to get started.

Fool contributor John Rosevear owns shares of Apple. Novo Nordisk and Garmin are Motley Fool Global Gains recommendations. Kimberly-Clark is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Costco is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Morningstar, Costco, and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Morningstar. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.