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The Vanguard website lists the mutual funds in which one can invest when opening an IRA. Some of those funds have minimum investment amounts of $10,000. Since the annual IRA contribution limits are $5500 / $6500, is the only way to invest in these accounts by rolling over from an existing retirement account an amount that satisfies the minimum investment amount?

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Yes, the fund requires a $10,000 minimum investment regardless of how the money gets in to the account. I've found with many custodians there will be multiple variations of the same fund with different minimum investment amounts, and different expense ratios. The same fund may be available with a $1,000 minimum initial investment amount but a slightly higher expense ratio.

If you are opening a new account and want to invest in one of those funds immediately, you can wait until January 1, 2018 and make your $5,500 contributions for 2017 and 2018 at the same time.

Example Vanguard fund with three different variations of expense ratio and minimum entry point.

Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares (VFIAX)

Expense Ratio:                    0.04%
Minimum investment:            $10,000

Vanguard 500 Index Fund Investor Shares (VFINX)

Expense Ratio:                    0.14%
Minimum General Account:        $3,000
Minimum UGMA/UTMA:              $3,000
Minimum IRA:                    $3,000
Minimum Education savings:      $2,000

Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO)

Expense Ratio:                    0.04%
Minimum (current unit price):     $226.94
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    Or, if you (meet the minimum for and) buy Investor shares, and then add more perhaps over several years, after you reach 10k Vanguard will automaticaly convert them to Admiral. – dave_thompson_085 Jul 21 '17 at 8:51
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is the only way to invest in these accounts by rolling over from an existing retirement account an amount that satisfies the minimum investment amount?

No. You can also, as quid said, make two years' worth of contributions at once. You can also invest in something else and let your money grow in the IRA; when it grows to over $10,000, you can sell your investments and buy the fund with the $10k minimum. (Selling funds inside the IRA incurs no tax.)

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