Background: I'm 52 years old with $108K in an IRA and 50K in my stock account which is under my direct control. I am in good health, married, have only one child who is soon to be married, and no debt outside our mortgage (13.5 yrs left). My wife doesn't work. I have no ability to add to my IRA via employment and I believe the IRA will be worth 250K (assuming 6%) in 15 years which is an insufficient amount to support retirement. My stock account is my savings/emergency fund and I have to be careful to preserve principal. But I also know that I need to grow it substantially if my retirement is to be anything other than fraught with fear. So how do I grow my principal without exposing myself to too much risk? What I know - If I can average 6% a year for 15 years, adding $200/mo via dividends, my stock account will be worth $226K. That combined with my IRA will give me $475K in my retirement fund. Still not great but decent. - If I delay retirement until 70, my social security benefits should be around $3400/mo. - my broker charges me 0 for stock/etf buys and 10-12 cents per sale What I believe - Stock investments are the only reasonable way to increase my nest egg - Stock investments played stupidly could cost me greatly, which I cannot afford - Chasing after fads (i.e. gamestop, amc) is more likely to make me lose $ than to gain - Day or swing trading is also more likely to result in a loss - Depending on when bear markets occur (i.e. think of a 40% drop right before retirement), I may not be able to afford to just buy a position and sit on it for 15 years. - I need to educate myself better, particularly regarding buy points. - Margins and options are too risky for someone in my position Other thoughts Below shows the 2021 starting balance in my stock account with 2% potential growth each month for a year. Dividend payments are not included. As you can see, achieving this projection would mean a 26.8% gain for the year. 31-Dec $47,329.29 Jan $48,275.88 Feb $49,241.39 Mar $50,226.22 Apr $51,230.75 May $52,255.36 June $53,300.47 Jul $54,366.48 Aug $55,453.81 Sept $56,562.88 Oct $57,694.14 Nov $58,848.02 Dec $60,024.98 Stocks are in growth mode right now and as we come out of covid-19 I think the growth rate will increase, particularly in oil and gas infrastructure and refining, Disney as parks open up more, travel, etc. Will growth eventually die down and turn into a bear market? Of course but that's par for the course. Anyway I think 2% monthly growth is doable for 2021. Actually I think some months in 2021 will provide much > 2% growth. I read a neat article on the web regarding when to sell to cut losses and the argument is to cut losses at 7% below buy price and invest the money in something else. To find a stock that breaks you even from a 7% loss is not hard in the current market. But finding stocks to recover to break-even point from more severe losses gets much harder. See below. Starting amount Loss Balance % gain needed to break even 1000 10% 900 11.1% 1000 20% 800 25% 1000 50% 500 100% I read another neat article regarding when to cut profits and the argument is to sell once a gain reaches the 20%-25% range. You don't have to sell all, say 33% to 50%. You leave some in case the gain increases further. By selling you lock in gains. A third article I read strongly suggests entering a position in small doses. So you buy x shares of a stock on day 1, see where it goes over a day or 2, and if it looks good, buy x shares again. Maybe you add a third dose of shares a few days later. This makes sense to me, particularly if you are unsure of the proper buy point. A fourth article I read suggested having no more than 10-20 positions in my portfolio as it gets difficult to keep track of more than that. It also suggested being diversified amongst multiple companies in multiple sectors. The idea is to be diversified enough that not all of your positions move negatively simultaneously. What I've learned in the few months I've been doing this Selling at 20%-25% gain can mean missing some gains. I experienced this when I bought 8 shares of Novavax at $127 I think and sold it for $207. Had I held it, I could have sold it for as high as $307. I made great profit but it could have been much greater. However I try to focus joy on what I did gain versus disappointment in what I missed out on. Selling when losses hit 7% below buy price has been a good idea I think. I've tweaked it slightly to sell a position even sooner (5-6%) if it is dropping close to that in a single session when the market as a whole is rising. I'm staying away from jumping in to a position by reacting to individual stocks news like earnings reports. Yes I've missed out occasionally by not buying when a company releases a positive surprise. But I have been burned by buying based on a positive surprise and then seeing the stock price drop. Albertson's which I had bought on 1/12 is a good example. I'm cautious about small cap companies. I've seen great analyst reports and bought positions only to see them drop remarkably without necessarily a newsworthy reason for it. For example ALTO (formerly PEIX) had great analyst recommendations back in Dec. and I thought based upon their specialty alcohol business that they would be a solid company to invest in. After all, people will still be hyper-sensitive to sanitizing their hands even after this pandemic is under control. It didn't turn out that way I envisioned. This is one where I didn't want to quit at 7% loss and I ended up losing 13%. I will never again bear a loss that great. I start positions in the range of $600-$800. I go up from there if things look good after a day or 2. Some of my more distinct losses were due to going in at $2500+ right out of the gate. ALTO (see above) is one such example. Lastly, I've really learned to keep emotions out of the decision making process. I have absolutely no emotional attachment to any position or product. I am solely focused on the goal of growing my portfolio by 33% in 2021. As of today, I am 5.99% up YTD so I ain't doing badly. (In another post I said I was up 5.66%. Just got dividend payments this a.m. hence the 5.99%). Conclusion Looking forward to the rest of 2021! I'll be keeping an eye on trends and will likely tweak my approach further as we get closer to 2022.