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Author: SaraW946 Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 76418  
Subject: Retirement planning Date: 4/8/2013 11:47 AM
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I'm afraid this is going to be a long post, but I have several questions on retirement planning for which I would very much appreciate your input. In the end, of course, I am responsible for making a decision and buying whatever funds I choose, so I will under no circumstances consider any advice giver as responsible for any mishaps. :) Also: please note that I am a foreigner who now lives in the US permanently, and I have been seriously delving into the American retirement systems and strategies for the last year or so. For this reason, things that might seem evident to you, are not necessarily so to me.


At the moment, I have a regular portable state retirement plan in Illinois, one Traditional IRA, and one 403b plan, besides by brokerage account that includes stocks and mutual funds. I self-manage all but the Illinois state plan. Unfortunately I cannot transfer nor roll-over a European state retirement fund I have which will sadly give me very little in terms of pension when the time comes. As things look right now, I am looking at a 30-year career and active investing for retirement, provided all will go well with me in terms of health. :)


My Traditional IRA, 403b, and brokerage accounts are all with Fidelity. I contribute the maximum allowed to my IRA and about half of what I am allowed to my 403b. The questions I have:

1) My 403b, which I started about a year ago, is invested in two Fidelity mutual funds: Fidelity® Equity-Income Fund - Class K (FEIKX) and Fidelity® Low-Priced Stock Fund - Class K (FLPKX). So far I've been very happy with its returns. Do you guys believe it would be a good idea to continue contributing to those two sole funds without adding a third or changing? And under what circumstances does one change funds?

2) My Traditional IRA, which includes contributions from three years, was initially managed by a very bad financial advisor, has grown slightly. It is invested in three funds, the first two were chosen by the financial advisor, the third one by me. These are: Franklin Growth Fund Class A (FKGRX) which is horrible; FRANKLIN RISING DIVIDENDS CLASS A (FRDPX) which is OKish but I don't like it either; and Fidelity Spartan Total Market Index Fund (FSTMX) which I chose and like so far.

I am thinking of replacing FRANKLIN RISING DIVIDENDS CLASS A (FRDPX) with Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund (VDIGX), and am considering the LifeStrategy Growth Fund (VASGX) to replace FRANKLIN RISING DIVIDENDS CLASS A (FRDPX).

3) Last, but not least, through my brokerage account, I have also bought Fidelity Contrafund (FCNTX) and Vanguard Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Investor Shares (VTSMX). While I've been regularly adding money to Contrafund every month with no issues, I discovered today that VTSMX has a $75 fee every time I buy shares! Naive, you'll argue, but as I said, this is all new to me as a foreigner.


Do you have any advice on strategy? I like VTSMX, but I don't want to be paying such a steep fee every month, so would it be a better solution if I open an account with Vanguard and buy the fund through them with no fee? I still need to find out if there is a minimum I need to invest so that I can forfeit the fee which is possible.

Thanks for taking the time to read all that and I apologize if it's a little confusing. I would be very grateful for any input or advice on my options.
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