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For yet another perspective, I always highly recommend that new investors read Jim Collins' "Stock Series" from his blog. Link:

Jim is very down-to-earth and breaks complicated concepts into easily digestible chunks. Once he does that, he provides a very Simple Path to Wealth (which he recently published a book of the same title). If you take the time to read the whole Series, I guarantee that you will come out of it with a lot of new knowledge, but more importantly a new perspective.

I don't take everything Jim says as gospel, but if I did, I'd probably be in an even better place than I am now - retiring in 20 months at the age of 55. What I recommend for those that read the Series and still have a proclivity for dabbling in the stock market, is to follow his advice with 75% or more of your investable dollars and use the rest to dabble. That's all most of us are really doing with our individual stock picks, whether we want to admit it or not. Few take the time to truly understand businesses and investing. The sooner you come to terms with your own limitations and aspirations in that regard, the better. Money compounds pretty slowly at first, but the decisions you make early on dramatically affect what happens to your nest egg in the later years.

If you take my advice above, and find that the 25% or so of your portfolio is outperforming the other 75% over a 2-3 year period, congratulations! You're probably a natural and can devote a slightly bigger chunk of your funds to active management. Just know that there are a LOT of professionals out there that can't outperform the indexes.

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