Originally posted by Vash
But the idea of doing it myself always appealed to me. I'd appritiate some info sources (investing for dummies?). Also, how much does it complicate your taxes?
I've tracked financial going-ons for a long time but only in the last three years pulled all our retirement stuff out of Merrill Lynch. Full service is great if you don't have time to do research and you're careful about how they are compensated.
Some good sources of starter info:
MSNBC's Jim Kramer
Organizational retirement seminars
How deep you decide to get will greatly affect how much work you need to do. If you want to pick stocks, that's more complex than funds since its an all-eggs-in-one-basket thing for whatever you invest in. Funds spread the risk more depending on their level of segment focus. Motley Fool's a great starting point.
I only started investing in a few individual stocks because I recognized very surprising trends I thought I could make money on. For instance, the first one I bought was Conoco-Phillips (COP) when gas prices were low. The stock had dropped too and I realized that a single terrorist attack or the highly likely increase in gas costs would vault it back up. Sure enough, the Saudi's had that pipeline attack and COP went up where I sold.
One rule of thumb for me with stocks (but not funds) is to know where I'll sell it before I buy it. Then, immediately after the buy, I'll set the market sell for that price and let it ride.
WARNING: I have only been messing with individual stocks for about two months now and I'm very leery of putting anything of significant value into them. I need some failures so I can learn some lessons.