Here's a recent question from a Fool reader: "If my IRA is invested in mutual funds and I want to shift that into an index fund or stocks, can I do that?" The answer is yes, probably.
If your IRA is maintained by a brokerage such as E*Trade
If your IRA is with a mutual fund family, you can probably switch between its funds with a minimal charge. You might pay steeper fees to switch to other funds, and you may not be permitted to invest in individual stocks at all.
If you don't know how to pick good individual stocks, perhaps stick with mutual funds. Our Champion Funds newsletter recommends a bunch of standouts -- try it for free. Or find great stocks that our analysts recommend in our investing newsletters, which you can also try for free. Our Inside Value newsletter, for example, recommended GTECH Holdings
Setting up an IRA, if you don't have one, is not as complicated as you might think. Learn much more about IRAs (both the traditional and Roth varieties) in our IRA Center and about retirement planning in general in our Retirement area.
Learn more in these articles:
And by the way, if thinking about retirement planning makes your head hurt, look into our TMF Money Advisor service, which features customized independent advice from a variety of objective financial experts.