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, "it is stated that one of the 1st things to be done is to set up an account with a discount broker. Then, it is recommended that a significant portion of the investment be with the Vanguard 500 Index Fund."

In beginning to invest, one of the first things to do is set up an account with a discount broker.
I agree that mutual funds should be held with a mutual fund company, and Vanguard stands alone in low fees. Furthermore, index funds are quite tax-efficient because there is little turnover. Therefore, there are two levels of tax avoidance in having an index fund in an IRA.
My advice would be to begin investing with an index mutual fund in a taxable account with the mutual fund. Then set up an IRA and think about what you want to put into it. You can start with a stock you'd like to hold onto for a long time. The next year, add a different stock. In a few years you have a portfolio. You are limited in how much money you can put into your IRA, but you are not limited as to how much you might invest in an index fund in a taxable account.
Best wishes, Chris
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