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I'm a little new at this. Just a little history. I received an early retirement lump sum package on 8/1/98. Since I was bombarded with suggestions on how to best invest it and having no clue, I put it in a money market IRA with the financial services division of my Credit Union (the only place I could think of to safely place it until I decided what to do with it).

I tried to decide but I couldn't bring myself to put any of it in the myriad of mutual funds that were suggested. I guess it was because I am a control freak and the thought of having all these people in control of my money and being somewhat locked in to the decision for years, just made me know that while I wasn't sure what to do, that was definitely not it.

Then the convential wisdom that retirement funds should be 60% stocks, 30% bonds, 10% cash! Well I explored the bond market, T-Bonds, municipal bonds, REITs and the more I learned, the more I thought, why would I want to put my money away for 2,4,6,15 years only to get 5% back? I can get that in my money market fund and still have access to my money.

I had explored the Fool last fall as I was researching everything else and thought it made some sense but still scary. However, my son gave me the book again last week ( I was home sick with a cold) because he knew that my New Year's Resolution was to make a decision to do something with the money this month. So I took the time to read and reread and wander all over your website.

Now it is not so scary. I made investments in a few good stocks last year and they are performing well. My son and daughter and I are also researching some other ones that look promising.

So now being Foolish seems like a strategy that I can accept and am actually excited to be learning about being able to take care of my own retirement portfolio, which is still bordering on new to me.

Thanks in advance for your valuable information.

Now I have a couple of questions?

Discount Brokers

Currently I am paying $40 a trade. Not bad for an occasional trade for 100 shares. But too much for Fool 4 trades and the others that I will be initially making this year. I've look at a few brokers so far and have more info coming. Is a etrade broker like DATEK a possible alternative? I almost always have access to the Net.

Also, for retirement I think I read maybe invest 30% of the money in the Foolish 4. Is that in the ballpark?

I currently have 20% invested in Lucent (200 shares), Cisco (200) and @Home (100).

I know I will be taking baby steps this year but would really appreciate your thought on my plan so far.

Thanks so much.

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