Stop That 401(k)!

Why a taxable stock-index fund might be your best savings vehicle as retirement approaches

For most of your life, building a nest egg by investing regularly in a 401(k) or Roth IRA or low-cost variable annuity is a no-brainer. You get decades of tax-free growth (returns on stocks have averaged about 11% annually the past few decades), and in the case of a 401(k), you also get an up-front tax deduction. Try getting that in a taxable stock mutual fund at Fidelity or Vanguard. Those of you who get a matching contribution from your employer can count additional blessings.

There's a hitch, of course. If you need to tap your tax-deferred savings early, you'll pay...

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