Here's my $0.02 (keeping in mind that I'm a relatively new investor, though I have done quite a bit of research/thinking on the subject) (yeah, I know, take it with a grain of salt):I think individual stocks are an excellent option and it's what I plan on doing (except for the fact that my 401K offers solely mutual funds and I'm stuck with that *sigh*) with my own (at this point) meager investment money. Why? First, so long as you can learn to read and draw conclusions from company financial statements, you can exploit good investments like no fund can. A fund is limited by law to investing only 5% of its assets in any one stock. Let's say that your research discovers a wonderful company, you understand what they do, and you conclude that they will make you a handsome profit for you, long-term. Your mutual fund discovers the same stock. You are given the freedom to invest more than 5% of your investment money into that stock, while your fund manager is not. Further, and check out the motleyfool investment guide on this one, you might be able to exploit a stock that, because of its low share price, the mutual funds are not able to pull down the full 5% investment percentage. If you buy before that point, and the funds start investing later once the share price hits a point where they wouldn't own a large chunk of the company with a 5% investment, you could be in for a very nice ride as the funds start pouring cash into the company.To the extent that you desire diversification (not everyone does -- it decreases your upside potential as much as it increases your downside position), you can elect to invest in many different companies -- granted, the diversification would be better with mutual funds, but, odds are, so would be the returns.As for the sharebuilder program, it is an interesting pseudo-drip way of purchasing shares and, if you are investing sufficient amounts (and I don't recall the amount that may be -- it was over my head at this point), the percentage is, I believe, lower than with even discount brokers. What concerns me is whether their fees will (once again) increase, as they have over the course of the last couple of years. Perhaps consider drip plans (check out this site's drip boards, and maybe moneypaper.com) with no or low fees to cut down on the transaction costs even further (I note, however, that Ford and Disney do not, as far as I know, have fee-friendly drip plans). Also, in case anything awful happens and you're not able to invest for a certain period of time, I'm not familiar with whether sharebuilder has no-activity fees, while a drip plan would not. Here's a link to Moneypaper's listing of companies with fee-friendly drip plans: http://www.directinvesting.com/moneypaper/companies/nofeeco.cfmAll in all, though, I think your plan's concept is solid, even though I might not agree with the choice of Ford and Disney, but that's a separate issue. I think a pseudo-dripping stocks that do not offer drips as part of a long term investment/retirement strategy is an excellent way of spiking the returns of your 401K mutual funds, as is dripping individual stocks. Matter of fact, I've started to do the same (though I won't be on the same scale as you for 2-3 more years).lambent1
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