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I've been cruising the web site for a week and reading & learning. I have a substantial divorce settlement coming shortly. I plan to invest all the cash, but am learning that mutual funds & brokers are perhaps not the way to go. I have read the DRIP material at length and wonder what you experienced Fools feel would be my best, your "dream" DRIP portfolio if you knew then what you know now? I'm leaning toward Johnson & Johnson, GE, Intel, Coca Cola and Pfizer. I'd also like to get into Microsoft & Dell. I appreciate any advice you can give.

My advice would be to take your time and research the companies you're interested in, and not to invest all your money until you're confident you understand them and know why they should give better returns then other companies. In the meantime, you can park the money in a moneymarket fund so it's earning a bit of interest. Remember, the market isn't going anywhere; it'll wait until you're ready and know what you're doing. Don't make mistakes by rushing into an investment.

Consider putting some of your money in an index fund; either an S&P 500 or Wilshire 5000 (total stock market) index. Vanguard is IMO the best choice, as it has the lowest expenses (very important! Especially on indexes) of any fund. Personally, I think an index fund makes a very good "core" holding, and one can add individual stocks as confidence and learning grows.

If you have earned income, be sure to start a Roth IRA. This is best done via an index fund. There are very few Drips that offer this, and the ones I know of have hefty fees for it. Besides, it would be difficult to diversify in a Roth without investing in a fund (though once a good balance is built up, a self-directed IRA is a possibility; I prefer to do my stock-picking outside my IRA, personally).

Never go on an adventure without a hat!
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