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You've both made great points, gimme a bit to absorb that info.

By conservative (I've probably mangled the usage of that term) I mean going into two ETFs, but absolutely no stocks. I'm not in the position to buy stocks yet, that much I have figured out.

Having said that, what are your thoughts on investing in two ETFs? For example PKW and VB, 50/50-ish (roughly equaling about $1000 or maybe a little bit more). VB from TD Ameritrade would be commision free, PKW would cost me about $10 to buy. Keep in mind I'm still just throwing out my thoughts, not ignoring advice. An index fund has always been an option I've considered, and yeah, probably what I should do.

It just seems that I would learn from doing that. I would learn the fees, expense ratios, how dividends work, watching what the funds invest in, and all the rest. I dunno, long term they seem to be something I could possibly keep as I expand a portfolio. One year of holding those, would I really stand to lose much in expenses? As long as I didn't lose my butt on them I would be happy with what I've learned along the way and be more confident in putting more money into the market. Using the simulators is only teaching me so much, because I don't have the drive to dig deeper knowing I have nothing real involved.

A year from now I would be in a better financial position, I'd also be in a better position knowledge wise; then I could begin to expand (hopefully wisely and "conservatively"), and I'd wait quite a bit of time before I even considered buying individual stocks.

I will look into a low cost index fund more now that you've mentioned it, so thanks for that input.

Thanks again for listening to me babble like an idiot.
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