I've heard that a person shouldn't be in more than 3 or 4 mutual funds, because the more you have, the less likely you are to beat the market. Of course, I presume you're also less likely to underperform, too, but that's never what I read about.
I do the online brokerage, because I'm not convinced that a broker can pick a mutual fund better than I can. The data is pretty much all out there.
I also have a fair number of individual stocks. I've been using a system that I like to pick them, though I can't really tell if I'm doing better or worse than I'm doing in my mutual funds. It's kind of fun to follow them, though, and I like to think that it's my chance to pick a skyrocketing star and get rich. That's not going to happen when you own mutual funds.
The crash of '08-'10 was painful on the stock side, but that was more bad luck than anything. I had been buying more bank and finance stocks recently because I liked the dividends they were paying. I had a couple of small bank stocks that got bought by big banks right before everything blew up, and all my finance stocks got destroyed. So I guess buying individual stocks takes a little more steel than buying mutual funds.
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