No. of Recommendations: 2
Welcome Liblkcows. We're glad you could join us.

We need to know more to make the right suggestions. For example, your age. What retirement age you have in mind.

These are bumpy times because of what is going on in Europe and in Congress. In a few more weeks we will know how earnings are going. Perhaps economic slowdown will not be too severe and recession can be avoided. The action on fiscal cliff is encouraging, but there is still more chaos in Congress to come with the debt ceiling, etc.

If you are optimistic, as I am, that these problems can be dealt with and the economy will gradually recover, investing in equities is probably the best place for your money. Most would begin with an S&P 500 Index fund (such as Vanguard's 500 Index Fund, ticker VFINX)) or a total market fund such as Vanguards VTI.

As you gain more experience over time you would want to diversify into other mutual funds such as an international fund, a growth fund, hot sector funds, etc. Some would include bond funds, though low interest rates makes them not so attractive at the moment.

Eventually you will want to begin adding stocks as you spot good opportunities. Blue chip stocks and dividend paying stocks are preferred in these uncertain times.

As you get closer to retirement, fixed income investment become more important. Low yields make them not so attractive just now. That is why dividend paying stocks are preferred if you can take the risk.

In uncertain times, it becomes important to keep an eye on your investments. You will want to sell quickly if the market turns against you. But ideally if markets do well for a few months, you should be up enough to have some time to decide what to do before you take big losses. Remember to hold your winners and sell your losers.

If you want to learn about stocks, try a CAPs portfolio. If you can pick winners there, you can easily switch to cash investments. Until then, you know to invest in mutual funds and let the pros do the stock picking.
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