Picking stocks demands study, discipline, patience, and tolerance for risk.
That's why many people advise that small investors stick with mutual funds
The value of funds is instant diversification, often spanning hundreds of firms, and the peace of mind that comes with letting someone else do the research.
The watchword of investment advisers: Don't do anything that makes it hard for you to sleep at night.
But many people - not just the rich - like to hold stocks, often alongside funds.
If you hang on long term, stocks can actually be less expensive, when you factor out fund fees and taxes on capital-gains distributions.
Cheap ways to buy stocks include Internet brokers, where a transaction may cost about $15.
Many companies offer direct-purchase plans that avoid commissions altogether. For a list of these 300 companies, call 800-711-7969. Ask for a sample copy of No-Load Stock Insider.