Vanguard has many excellent low expense ratio, no load funds. Vanguard 500 Index fund is the best know S&P 500 Index fund. It is an excellent place to begin if in doubt. You could be better off to open your IRA directly at Vanguard if you plan to invest exclusively in Vanguard funds.A brokerage account is somewhat more versatile in that you can also purchase stocks if you want to. However, there is often the problem of some limitation on which mutual funds are available and some service fees associated with holding them in a brokerage account. If you go with a brokerage account, an alternative to the Vanguard funds is SPY the S&P 500 Index tracking stock traded on the Amex. It also has a low expense ratio. However, you must pay commissions to your broker on purchases. That should not be a big deal at a discount broker, but you may want to limit the number of transactions per year to keep costs under control. Mutual fund companies as custodians for your account are usually much less of a hassle in this regard.
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