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Using the Priority of Money

Some investment vehicles are preferred over others because they provide tax advantages and other advantages. Unfortunately, some of the investment vehicles that are high money priorities also have lower maximum contribution limits. For example, in 2006 the maximum amount you could contribute to a Roth IRA was $4,000, while there was no limit on how much you could invest in individual financial assets.

Although some investment vehicles have limitations, it is still a good idea to adhere to the priority of money. You should first invest money in vehicles that are the highest priority of money. When you have reached the maximum amount you can invest in these vehicles, or when you have invested as much money as your company is willing to match, then you should invest in the next highest priority of money. Continue to invest until you have utilized all of your available investment funds.

When selecting financial assets to include in your retirement account, remember that you will not have to pay taxes on the principal or earnings until you take the money out. If you own financial assets that are actively traded or that generate a lot of income, these assets should be held in your retirement accounts; you will not have to pay taxes on the assets until you take them out at retirement. Assets that you may want to hold in your retirement account include actively traded accounts, taxable bonds, and high-turnover mutual funds.

Financial assets that you are managing with a buy-and-hold strategy should be kept in taxable investment accounts. Such assets include tax-free bonds, tax-efficient indexes and mutual funds, and other financial assets that you do not plan to sell for a long time. Although you may be required to pay taxes on these funds each year for dividends and other short-term distributions, it is usually tax efficient to hold these assets for extended periods of time. The taxes that you must pay on these funds will add little to your yearly tax bill.


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