Greetings, Het, and welcome. You wrote:<<We are trying to get our finances set up so that we don't HAVE to work anymore. We have $400,000 in stock and mutual funds, 5 rental properties plus our own home, and will be receiving about $350,000 additional cash in the next year or so. We don't know whether to take the $350,000 and pay off all six houses which will give us over $4000/ month income as well as eliminating our $700/mo pmt on our own home. We also have over $2000/mo coming in from military retirement. We are concerned that if we keep EVERYTHING in the stock market, it could all disappear overnight, and at least the rental property is tangible. We are Realtors and have no problem managing rentals. Or, rather than paying off these houses, should we buy more rental property? Any suggestions?>>It seems like you're doing quite nicely in your plans, but are now really concerned about the stock market because you don't know much about it. So why not learn?I assume you're new to both Fooldom as well as to stock investing. That's great on both counts! You have wandered into a forum that believes you, as an individual, can do far better for yourself than most professional money managers. Provided, that is, you take some time to learn a few basic investment concepts and do some self-examination to see where you fit on the risk tolerance scale. Therefore, why not take some time now -- not later -- to be sure about what you want to do. Start first by reading The 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly, which you can find at http://www.fool.com/school/13steps/13steps.htm. You should also read the articles in our Investing Basics area at http://www.fool.com/school/basics/investingbasics.htm. These missives will suggest some important things you should consider. Then I suggest you toddle over to your local library, discount bookstore, or even here in the Fool Mart, and pick up some easily read, easily understood, inexpensive texts that will thoroughly explain how to invest in stocks using some simple systems that will take but an hour per year of your time (if you're slow) yet produce returns that put the majority of professional money managers to shame. I suggest and commend the following to you: "Beating the Dow" by O'Higgins; "The Dividend Investor" by Petty and Knowles; "The Motley Fool Investment Guide" and "You Have More Than You Think" by the Gardner brothers; "One Up on Wall Street" by Lynch; and "What Works on Wall Street" by O'Shaughnessey. All are well worth their low cost and the small investment in time it takes to read them. Get them and read them. You'll be glad you did.While you're doing all that, also take some time to explore the various nooks and crannies of Fooldom to see what others are doing and what they're discussing. I also recommend you read my articles on "Managing Your Retirement" at http://www.fool.com/retirement/manageretirement/manageretirement1.htm?ref=G02C04. They will help give you some insight as to what you can do. In the process of all that reading, you'll gain a wealth of knowledge and information that will serve to clarify how you want to approach this very personal issue. Don't be afraid to ask a question anywhere in Fooldom. Folks around here are great about answering questions and clearing up misunderstandings.Regards..Pixy
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