Is it a good idea to do invest into mutual funds to build a Retirement plan?

I am 25 and at my job I’m not offered any kind of 401k plan. Is it a good idea to invest into mutual funds to build my retirement plan? As they say, start early. What are my options on this?
I was refered by a friend to talk to a financial advisor, she is working p/t under primerica with three different investing companies. According to all the numbers I provided, she advises me to use Franklin Templeton Fund Allocation, I don’t know much about any avaialble investing companies so I am very lost in terminology and the numbers.

I’ve been doing some research on this for a number of years, and here is what I have found . . . . Yes, mutual funds are a good idea for retirement planning. To better solidify one’s retirement plan, though it is reccommeded that people make use of either a traditional or Roth IRA. (The difference between the two is in a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on your deposits. The traditional IRA’s taxes are paid upon withdrawals. It would make more sense to open a Roth IRA, since you would be paying taxes at today’s tax rates. There’s no telling what the tax rate could be in 25-30+ years.)

Another area of investment is traditional stocks. Look for those paying out dividends. Stocks can be risky, like any other form of investment, but companies like Enron don’t collaspe very often. (For all the Bush-haters, one of the good things he has done is pressure corporations into more stringent accounting practices and requiring that they give their employees some form of a retirement account. Failure to comply would result in a visit from a branch of the Justice Dept., say like the FBI. Of course the retirement requirement was just recently announced. So it may take a little time for that to take effect.)

If you use a financial institution, like a bank or credit union, then they should offer certificates of deposit (CD’s). These are good investment vehicles, since you sign a contract for a brief period of time and yield a higher percentage rate than your traditional savings or checking accounts. The interest rate is usually determined by the term of the deposit, which can vary from a matter of days to some lasting as long as five years.

Money market accounts are also pretty good, because they offer a better return. Keep in mind, though that you would need a little more to open one of these types of accounts. Some financial centers require a minimum of $5 – 10K to open.

Annuities are pretty good, because upon retirement, your annuity pays you a “paycheck”. It is a fixed income for however long you decide. Of course in order to get this income, you have to pay into it for several years. It can be good, though.

There are many other form of investing and saving for retirerment. My advice is decide what type of lifestyle you want to live presently and when you retire. If you think you will spend a lot like for travellling and spoiling grandchildren, then you will need to aggressively save during your working years.

Finally, get with somone you know and trust. Maybe you have an old college or high school classmate, friend, co-worker or family member. With all those people, it is possible that one of them is well versed in investing and retirement planning. Sit down for lunch one day and ask them to help plan your retirement savings. A word of caution though, some people are prohibited by law from discussing certain aspects of certain companies. (example: A systems architect from Microsoft couldn’t discuss with the pros & cons of investing in Microsoft stock. It is a violation of SEC regulations . . . . . in case you didn’t already know any of that.) Also, you could go to your bank or credit union and ask the teller or manager if they have an investment counselor on staff. That person could help you out. You let them know what you want out of retirement, how much you have to get started, and they can guide your path.