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Author: pauleckler Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 76384  
Subject: Re: Advice please... Date: 2/1/2004 12:53 PM
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Welcome, Geek. You seem to have a well thought out financial plan and definite goals. You are off to a great start.

As to the Roth, Fools would suggest that you decide if you want to continue doing mutual funds or if you think you want to begin buying some individual stocks. For mutual fund, Vanguard would be an excellent place for your Roth account. VFINX, Vanguards 500 Index fund, is an excellent choice with very low expense ratio, 0.18%. Vanguard does have extra fees for small accounts (below $10k). They may be worth paying for a while, but you will want to get you balance over that minimum as quickly as possible.

If you plan to do stocks, then a discount broker can be a good deal. Some have no fee Roths. I haven't tried them but Scottrade is often mentioned on these boards. Personally, I use Fidelity, which is not the cheapest but is certainly reliable and low cost.

At a broker you can buy mutual funds, or SPY, the S&P 500 tracking stock traded on the NYSE. It too has a very low expense ratio. Or as you become more comfortable with investing, you may decide to buy a few stocks.

If your budget allows it, you may also want to consider a taxable account in addition to the others. That can be the best place to put the money you are saving for a house downpayment. LTBH (long term buy and hold) in the Foolish lingo is a decent strategy to minimize taxes while you grow the account. By selecting investments that grow and don't pay much in taxable distributions, you minimize taxes. You pay only when you sell and then at capital gains rates. Tax managed mutual funds are one possiblity, but an S&P 500 Index fund can also do well. Usually distributions are small. You will also want to consider dividend stocks now that dividends are taxed at the same rates as capital gains.

I hope this gives you a reasonable overview. If any of it requires more explanation, ask away.

Best of luck to you.
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