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The editors at MSN Money have put together this Beginner's Guide to Investing to help you start putting your money to work.

There are different account types for different investing goals. Is this fun money, set aside to build a vacation fund? Or will you be buying groceries with the investment returns when you're 85?

Here are your main options:


If your employer offers a 401k or similar plan, make sure to take full advantage, especially when it comes to the free dollars available in the form of a company match.

Individual retirement account (IRA)

Make the maximum contribution to an IRA, which allows you to put some of your income into a tax-deferred retirement fund to grow tax-free until you retire. You won't pay taxes until you withdraw your funds.


Start a 529 plan to save for your kids' college expenses. Be warned that these plans don't always live up to the hype. Though they remain a good choice for some. Click here for more on the pros and cons of 529s.

Brokerage account

Open a brokerage account to start investing for goals that are more than five years in the future. Want to build a vacation fund? Use investing profits to upgrade your kitchen? This is the place.