I have had to manage my own money for nearly a decade. I have invested in more vehicles than I can count. Because I read so much, I nearly always get the strategy right. It is the tactics that are challenging. Before writing regarding specific investments I need to start with the ones that are the least effort.
Many people treat investing quite casually. Before I get into specifics I will start with the obvious. Expenses. Every type of manager of your money has to get paid. Payment has nothing to do with return. So hedge fund managers who offer the opportunity for outsized returns command outsize payments. Typical is 20% of the profits. This is great when they are delivering over 20% return, but sucks if they too lose money or just deliver average returns. Venture Capital funds are similar. My last two investments with big name funds have returned 0% and -80% over 5 years. As contrasted with the 30% per year of their previous funds.
Mutual funds may charge a front end load of 8% or a tail end load more like 5%. Needless to say avoid starting off in the hole. 8% up front is like giving away your first year return. Even 5% can be quite painful. New products are available called ETF’s that have 2-3% lower expense ratios. So with a little work you can mirror the performance of your fund with ETF’s saving 3% a year in expenses will literally double your returns over 24 years! Try to get your programs like 401k into self directed status and move away from the handful of funds that were picked for you. As a former CEO I was advised to be very conservative in these selections. Not losing for employees was more important than winning due to legal concerns.