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With regard to actual strategy, I'd start slowly and gradually. You're talking about a fairly large change in investment style here and you probably don't want to do that with 100% of your money until you're more comfortable with the new strategy. Think about apportioning some of your money ($50k? $100k?) to buying a small basket of individual stocks, and leave the rest in the strategy that at least hasn't lost you all of your money over those 15 years.

I'd get nice and familiar with the message boards, both the public boards here and the member-specific boards for the service(s) you subscribed to. Get comfortable with the service's methodology for picking "core" and "best buy" stocks. Read back issues of the newsletters, and make sure to really read and re-read the newsletters that describe the investment theses behind the companies that are starting to interest you.

In the meantime call up TD Ameritrade and make sure that the IRA you have is a self-directed IRA that allows you to buy and sell individual stocks. Make sure everything is ready to go when you do decide to sell some of the IRA mutual funds to buy an individual stock name.

Then I'd just wait until one of the companies you are interested in becomes a really attractive buy. When that happens, take some of the money you apportioned for your new strategy and start a position.

Whatever you do, make sure you're buying only when you feel something is a truly good buy. Don't liquidate $100k of your funds and immediately try to cram that all into 10-15 individual stocks that are the least objectionable ones you can find. Instead, do nothing until one stock you are following sounds like a really good buy, run your thoughts by others on the message boards, and then when you're feeling confident, liquidate some of your funds to buy that one stock.

Gradually build up from there.

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