I am now taking control of my own investments. While I've made a few in the past, including one very good and one very bad, I really don't have a clue. So I attended an intro class by a trading school which advocates trading and diversification but I am reticent as I'd like to be a bit more conservative with my retirement funds. On the other hand, Motley Fool advocates buy and hold and I'm reticent about that as well as I'd like to see some growth, not just anticipate it. I joined neither.

So, 1. Does anyone have advice as to a reasonable mix? And, 2. I may be a novice, but I'm a fast learner (even at 73) and I know there aren't any shortcuts in life. That said, does anyone have any recommendations on how to further my investing knowledge (books, sites, etc.) at a reasonable price? I'd like to dive in soon.


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You don't seem to be a big fan of trading as you may think it may be too risky or too time consuming being in front of your computer all day long.

You also don't seem to be a fan of buy and hold as you don't know what your investments will be worth when you need the funds.

How about a combination of the two, sometimes called trend trading or active investing. With this type of trading/investing you may hold a stock from a couple of months to many years. Once you buy a stock that is up-trending or starting to up-trend you hold onto it until it stops up-trending. You can use a combination of fundamental analysis (to find out what to buy) and technical analysis (to tell you when to buy and when to sell). So these are some topics you can start reading up on.

Using a technique like this will enable you to invest in healthy stocks when they are moving up in price and get out of them when they start moving down in price. There are many techniques you can use to get out of a stock, but the simplest has to be using stop losses. And once you learn and set up your system it should not take up much of your time when you actually do start trading/investing - 2 to 3 hours per week, and you can set yourself up that you analyse the market after the close and place any order so they get executed the next trading day without you being in front or the screen all day.

Other areas you might want to read and learn about are writing up a Trading Plan, using Position Sizing and Money Management so you don't overtrade in any one single trade, and Risk Management. A good book I quite liked is "Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom" by Van Tharp.

Good luck.


You mentioned three concepts: (1) trading (2) diversification (3) buy and hold.

Trading with any frequency is for people who want to manage their investments as a hobby or profession. You do not seem to be in that category.

Diversification is a critical element of any investment strategy. No matter what you do, you should be diversified. All the way would be best (this means owning at least some of every asset out there). The usual way to do this is to own a mutual or index fund. Or several. These funds own hundreds or thousands of stocks, so that buying the fund instantly diversifies you.

Buy and hold is the only reasonable approach to a portfolio for someone who is not interested in spending a lot of time managing it. There's no reason to think a buy-and-hold portfolio will underperform a typical traded portfolio, nor that the gains will come later. It's the assets in the portfolio that determine how aggressive/risky it is, not the frequency with which it is traded.

This isn't really a site for specific recommendations, but I'll provide a quick idea: Buy a couple of index funds that cover the whole universe of investments. Index funds have low expenses and are the cheapest/easiest way to diversify. Buy a "total stock market" fund and a "total bond fund" in a ratio that you like. If you want, also buy an "international fund." If you want specific tickers and ratios, another forum would be better(or just ask your broker or 401(k) provider). The bogleheads forum is one that I respect where people are very happy to give and debate specific recommendations.

At the end of the day, responsibly managing your investment portfolio is not rocket science and shouldn't occupy a lot of time or worry. Just choose a few funds with low expenses that cover all the assets you are really interested in, put your money in them in a reasonable-ish ratio (no one knows that the best ratio is) and then forget about it.

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