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I am thinking of opening some mutual funds outside of tax sheltered ones. Gasp.

Good move!
You'd be amazed how many people think you can only save for retirement in tax-sheltered accounts. I don't let the government tell me how much I can save, and you shouldn't either.

Suggestion: Do NOT have dividends re-invested to make keeping track of things easier. If you keep the fund for 20 years, do you really want to track down 20 years of quarterly dividend payments to find out your basis? And do you want to have to worry about accounting for the last year differently because it's short-term capital gains from the three dividend payments?

If you meet the minimums, Vanguard is good. Anmd they have the STAR fund until you do meet the minimums.

Schwab tries to compete with Vanguard and has similar funds with slightly lower minimums to get the low-expense deal.
I don't know a lot about other brokerages.

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