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Hello Foos,

I am on the way to open my Roth IRA and I decided to go directly with Vanguard. Yesterday in the evening I talked to a Vanguard representative. Even though he couldn't figure out what status box I should mark since I'm not a U.S.citizen, he was helpful with other questions.

They charge $10 for accounts if balance is below $5K. The guy said that Vanguard assesses balances in June and December. So, if by June it's still under $5K, you'll be charged 10 dollars. I'm going to mail a check of $3,010 (pre-pay the custodial fee) for 2003, and then let them automatically withdraw my money from my checking account. However, I still have to learn if I could fund my Roth IRA more until June (that way, I would reach $5K) and then decrease monthly contributions afterwards. Maybe someone of you has an idea about this.(??) So, this question was about a ROTH IRA.

Now I have some questions about opening a taxable account.

I'm torn pondering which route to open a taxable investment account. I'm interested in DODBX that I would like to buy and hold. But I am not sure if I should open an account with Scottrade or directly with Dodge&Cox. I still have time to think and maybe ask Fools' opinions since I don't intend to open this taxable account until after New Year.

Another question would be: How long does it take to have an account all set up? It seems I can open a Scottrade account on-line, but Dodge&Cox prefers an application filed via mail (which is fine with me, I have got all the forms at home). I could send the application in December, if it takes 2 weeks or so to open an account. But on the other hand, I'm afraid that they may set it up before 2004, and I don't want to have complications with my 2003 taxes. Has anyone have any insight about such a situation?

The last set of questions would be about stocks. Beforehand I must admit, I am a newbie in the arena of investing. Your info and advice/insight would be very helpful to me.
So, I am more like a Buy-and-Hold person. Therefore I was asking above if I am fine to go directly with Dodge&Cox, since I'm prone to keep that fund for a long term and make monthly contributions (unless something unexpected happens).
If I understand correctly, people who open a brokerage account all tend to trade stocks. Is this how they build a portfolio by constantly buying various stocks? Do they buy and hold the stocks or just keep trading daily or weekly?
Moreover, I haven't understood yet why tax consultants advice to sell unprofitable stocks at the end of the year in order to offset gains during that year.(??) I know that it's because of taxes. But what if that stock's price appreciates in the near future? Yeah, I agree it's impossible to guess prices of stocks, but anyway...

Thanks for everyone's input, Aida
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