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You've come to the right place (The Fool, that is). My first advice is read, read, read, ask questions, and take your time before you commit any money to anything except a savings account, money market fund, etc. If you even have an IRA/401K you are way ahead of the game, of course it pays to learn more about the various investing options, even within a 401K, which are sometimes limited.

Read a few books, even if don't understand everything. The Fool's books are excellent, dating back ten years or so.

I always plug (also a board at TMF), they have several tips on how to do a very-low fee retirement and/or investing program.

In general, you do well to beware the "investment advisor" which is usually just a salesman (or woman) who may not rob you outright, but may well be making 5% of your gross investment, just for spending an hour with you and getting you to sign over some money. Also with many investments (e.g. mutual funds) the annual fees are long term losers; it doesn't sound like much but you are much better paying 0.2% (Vanguard) than 1.5% (average stock fund); just like interest, the expenses compound over years.

If you are just starting out, there is much capsule wisdom, sometimes correct! For example, if you are investing periodically, better to use a low expense mutual fund. Investing a lump sum, perhaps (not necessarily!) better to use a ETF.

THere are very few iron rules in investing, except one (a title of an early TMF book): "You have more than you think" and other people want a slice of it!!!
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