Today, I opened a Vanguard Roth IRA thanks to some help from my boyfriend. It was a fairly simple process that took me less than 10 minutes. While I am roughly six years behind my peers who opened accounts after receiving undergraduate degrees, it's never too late to start saving for retirement.
What makes a Roth IRA different from a Traditional IRA is that you're taxed when you deposit money as opposed to when you withdraw it. Since I'm an entry level social worker working per diem, my income and tax rate is not very high. A Roth IRA seemed like the practical choice as I'd rather pay taxes now than have to pay more later.
I feel that as a social worker, I should be especially conscious about saving money. I'm not only saying this because of my profession's reputation for being underpaid. By being knowledgeable about money issues and applying money saving tactics to my own life, I can better counsel individuals and families with their own money problems. One tip I will definitely suggest is to open an IRA and put as much money as possible each year. As of today, I have maxed out my IRA contribution for 2010 and plan to max out subsequent years.
This is not to say that I don't like to shop and have fun, as I've been doing a considerable amount of shopping lately and have a few excursions planned for the immediate future! However, there should always be some balance between spending now and saving up for more fun down the line. I suppose I will (hopefully) see the money I deposited today again in 35-40 years!
I'll post another update later about the different funds I picked and why. This is all new to me, and I have a lot to learn about the investing process!