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Greetings, Ncg2, and welcome. You asked:

<<I currently have an IRA account with Vanguard that I contribute $2000 to every year. I can download an IRA application from Vanguard (or Fidelity, etc.) My question is how do I start an IRA that has only stocks in it and not mutual funds?>>

If you wish to trade in stocks within an IRA, then you must establish what's called a self-directed IRA with a broker of your choice. Any broker will help you set one up. Just tell the one you pick what you want to do. You may establish the account in two ways, used alone or in combination. The first is to fill out the basic account application, and then return the completed form along with a check for your initial contribution. The second is to complete the basic application along with a transfer form that will direct a current IRA custodian to liquidate all or part of your account with that custodian and transfer the proceeds directly to the new self-directed IRA. On your completion and return of both forms, the broker will send the transfer instructions to your old IRA custodian. In 20 to 45 days the transfer to the new IRA will be completed per your instructions. The direct transfer between the IRA custodians means you have no worry concerning taxes or penalty regarding the withdrawal from the old IRA. At that point (assuming you deposited no cash initially) you may begin trading in securities on your own.


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