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I agree with a lot of what rjm1 had to say. One minor addition. For your short term money you might consider a short term floating secured debt mutual fund. They pay app 150bp more than six month CDs, have very little fluctuation in NAV, and some allow withdrawals on a monthly basis with no withdrawal fee and no sales charge. They're a decent alternative.

Oh, yes, with regard to index funds, make sure you have a well though exit strategy. In a prolonged market downdraft you could get stuck with shrinking asset value and skyrocketing capital gains. In fact, for that matter, don't buy anything unless you have a well thought out set of criteria and a plan for selling. Don't stay too long at the dance.
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