how to: invest your money

Saving money and learning about investing is always a smart plan. Even if you’re newly hitched, it’s never too soon to start planning for those golden years. Think about it: Do you imagine yourselves lying on a beach or working behind a desk? If you picked the beach (or travel, or golf, or anything other than the 9-to-5 grind), you’ve come to the right place. We have all kinds of investment advice, including the basics of how to invest wisely and what all those financial terms really mean. Not sure where to begin? Start with our five easy steps to invest your money. We also have investing advice and Q&A on all kinds of financial basics about investing -- learn the difference between a 401(k) and an IRA, how to invest your savings, and your options if you can only invest a small amount. Our basic investing advice will help you get ready. But before you invest your money, you should be sure you’re out of debt: Use our debt calculator to help plan your payments, and follow our simple steps to go from credit card misery to debt free. And if your problem is a lack of cash, we’ve got tips for you, too. Learn the habits of spending-savvy couples, and find easy ways to save more of each month’s paycheck and stick to your budget. Don’t want to go it alone? Check out our local pages to find a financial planner in your area for some in-person investment advice.

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Q.

The Nest Q&A

What are the penalties for withdrawing from your 401(k)?

A.

Hate to say it, but if it's not for medical care, prepare to pay an extra 10 percent tax. Then add your regular income tax rate, which you escaped when you socked this money away for retirement. The tax rate varies, but the government takes a big chunk of its cut up front and also requires your investment company to immediately send it 20 percent of the withdrawal amount—ouch. At tax time, you could be entitled to a refund, but you could also owe more. Even if you're in the lowest tax bracket, you'll still be taxed some 20 percent. Remember: This is the money that, if left untouched until your golden years, would've been a tax-free treasure chest.