Looking to build an IRA to help secure your financial future? A simple but Foolish way to build an IRA is to start with Selected Funds American Shares (FUND:SLASX) and Dodge and Cox International (FUND:DODFX). Both of these outstanding funds can be purchased in an IRA with a minimum of $1000. Subsequent investments can be made for as little as $25 for SLASX and $250 for DODFX. And if you purchase these funds directly from the company, you can avoid all sales charges.

I would recommend maintaining a 75% SLASX and 25% DODFX balance between the two funds. When the SLASX balance reaches $10,000 the shares can be exchanged for "D" shares which trade without 12-b1 charges (no charges means higher returns). Dodge and Cox International has a 10% exposure to Emerging Markets so you can forego making a specific Emerging Market allocation in your portfolio as one is already built in.

When your IRA balance reaches $50,000, add BridgewayUltra Small Company Market (FUND:BRSIX) in a $2000 dose. Once you buy BRSIX, there is no minimum required on subsequent reinvestments. That's a nice little treat.

These three funds have low annual expenses, a proven record of outstanding performance, and most importantly they focus on their investors. The employees and managers of each of these fund families have a significant portion of their personal savings and retirement assets in their mutual funds. There's nothing scary about investing with a fund manager that "eats his own cooking."

Those three funds provide a solid foundation to work from. When your IRA grows to $100,000, you reach age 40, or you are extremely risk averse you can add bond funds (domestic, international, high yield, TIPS). And at the $100,000 level, maintain a 3%-5% allocation Real Estate Investment Trusts. That will diversify your portfolio while giving you exposure to other asset classes.

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Dodge and Cox International Fund is a Champion Funds recommendation.

Foolish contributor Buz Livingston, CFP, welcomes your feedback and believes most investors will benefit from professional advice. His goal in life is to determine the optimum number of kayaks to own. He owns all three of these mutual funds. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Motley Ghoul's Tricks or Treats represents the opinions of each Fool only and should in no way be taken as the opinion of either The Motley Fool, Inc., or any company in question, or as representative of anyone or anything other than that specific Fool's thoughts. So do your homework, and review The Motley Fool's disclosure policy .