If you are interested in playing in the stock market, set up a brokerage account and put funds in there that you are happy to fiddle with. For your retirement income, you need workhorses that will, without flash or dazzle, earn money steadily year on year.
Buy and Hold
No matter your age, the act of selling a stock comes with fees. Additionally, we tend to run away from what hurts, and watching the value of a stock fall is painful. However, what crashed will likely come back, especially if you buy index funds. With time, the market comes back and climbs.
Determining your risk tolerance is critically important before you start investing. Not everyone can handle watching their portfolio balance bounce around, and if the market drops dramatically, you may want to run away entirely. Instead, keep some funds in a cash fund and wait for a drop. A stock market correction means that stocks are now on sale. Take your cash funds and invest in index funds.
Focus On Index Funds
For your retirement goals, the majority of your funds should be in index funds. An index fund investment is a slice of the whole index. The S&P 500 is one, as are the Dow Jones and the Nikkei in Japan.
Buying one stock of each of the companies included in the S&P 500 would be quite expensive. Each purchase of stock would probably come with a fee, and when you sold it to buy something else, there would be another fee. To avoid these expenses, buying a small slice of this whole index will be much more efficient.
To create a diversified portfolio, you will need to pair up slow and steady gainers with higher risk stocks. On the days when the high risk stocks take off, you may be tempted to put all your money into them. However, volatile stocks tend to bounce around. Try to put the majority of your funds into investments that earn steady if not remarkable gains year by year.
Even if the bond market is stagnant, it is a good idea to have at least a bit of money in there. With a diversified portfolio, some stocks will earn more than others year by year. However, if earners drop, your balance will not completely tank if you have some funds in bonds or cash.
Take Smart Risks
Find training on investments that interest you. If you want to study futures trading, look for free training or a program that will allow you to do some practice trading. Think about this form of trading as Monopoly money, but pay careful attention to how you feel when your funds drop and your value dips. If you are prone to panic and run away, use the buy and hold strategy and try not to check your balance.
Buy a part of the whole exchange with index funds. Keep some money in cash. Be ready to learn, and as you learn, be ready to experiment. Try to do some practice trades to fully understand the software and to be aware of your gut reactions.