Some basic investment alternatives to consider for retirement include mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. Your investment program needs to consider the rate of return, your risk tolerance, diversification, and your time horizon. Also, when evaluating investments, you must be careful to compare the after-tax yield you will be earning from each investment (see the section Comparing Taxable and Tax-Exempt Yields).
Young people investing for retirement (on a tax-deferred, tax-free or non–tax-deferred basis) have a long-term time horizon, and investing in mutual funds can make sense. As you get closer to retirement, more conservative investments, such as bonds, cash, and fixed annuities, may be more appropriate.