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No. of Recommendations: 5

Its good that you have realized that luck aka rising tides have lead to some/most of your success. The next step is to take control of your investing future and not pawning it off on funds, ETF or newsletter recommendations. Its time for working99er to build working99er's system.

Stocks, bonds, funds(including index and etf's) are all investment vehicles each with their own character, pit falls and rewards. Each investor is unique in personality and skill set. The game, as it were, is to apply your knowledge, skills and personality to using the tools to the best of your ability.

What makes sense to you? Do you want a large core holding of index funds and to try to bump up returns with a few individual stocks? Do you want to manage primarily an index fund/ETF portfolio with a hobby stock portfolio? What theories of investing make the most sense to you: buy good stocks and fair prices, buy any stock that is most likely priced less than its worth, buy stocks that seem expensive but are going to look cheap in the rear view mirror?

Indexing is a great gig if you are willing to work index investing. What does not work is timing, you already know that having been a Fool for 2 years. Buying/balancing once a year on some arbitrary day and hoping for the next 364 is not a good plan.

Investing is a business and needs to be run like one. What is your business plan? The first plan out of the gate is probably not going to work perfectly, so what. We learn, we dust off, we fix it and try it again. Investing, running a business, is dealing with constantly changing issues. Eventually will build a plan/system that is robust enough to deal with our inevitable errors and the vagaries of the markets.

Vanguard products seem like the best choice
Vanguard has good products and many brokerages offer their own for similar prices and many brokers offer free trades on certain ETFs.

I'd like to buy 2 or 3, one being international.
Why? Why 2 or 3 and not 4 - 7? Why not 1 broad fund? How are you measuring international or emerging markets? (Most S&P500 companies have significant international exposure and most of them are chasing emerging markets for their products)

I feel the current up cycle is probably close to done and its hard to buy into what seems to be "the top".
Feelings are useless to the inexperienced, they don't have the breadth of experience to make an intelligent gut check call. The market may be topping, it may be setting up for another move up. How can YOU discern the difference? You may be wrong but it will be an informed choice instead of an emotional one. The first is a business decision and the pros and cons were weighed. The second is an emotional one and its repercussions will be emotional, if you are right you will be excited if you are wrong you will depressed. If you are right you are going to chase that feeling again. If you are wrong you are going to try to avoid that feeling again.

Does that make sense?

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