As Carlson implies here, a 401(k) or other employer IRA is one of the best methods of investment because of the tax breaks and ease of investment. Most employers also match up to a certain percentage, which is an immediate 100% gain. If you’re not funding a retirement account, get started today!
If you are not taking full advantage of your employer’s 401(k), you are making a very big mistake. You have no business investing in any other investment until you contribute the maximum allowed by law to your plan.
–Charles Carlson, Eight Steps to Seven Figures (Currency; 2000), p. 60.
Update: I actually don’t agree with his last sentence. If you need the money before you retire, then no-load index funds or quality stocks are great investments even if you’re not maxing out your IRA. This is especially true for those of us with 401(k) plans, where one can contribute up to $15,500 a year. It’s not realistic for most of us to max that out!
But even then a Roth IRA is often the best investment account, as your contribution can be withdrawn at any time, while the earnings grow tax-free. If you need the earnings before retirement, then I recommend a standard investment account from a discount broker like Scottrade (the one I use) or Etrade.