Tough question. All I can say is what I do.
Take calculated risks
The top tip for 2012 is the same as for 2011, 2010 and so forth: buy and hold several no load, low cost, tax efficient index mutual funds like those offered by Vanguard. You don't need to buy more than two or three funds: Index 500, Total International, Small Cap to get good diversification. Picking stocks is a loser's game. Ordinary investors are at the bottom of the food chain--the last to get the good news and the last to get the bad news.
Do not buy Mutual Funds. There are fees limitations selling restrictions. Alternatively, consider Exchange Traded Funds (ETF's), although they have many advantages over Mutual Funds, normally not a buy and hold investment. In this low interest rate environment, on dramatic market downturns, investors have a herd mentality and sell the bad AND the good. During those times, find good quality dividend stocks that provide a return of 3% to 6% AND diversify. These stocks will typically be the utilities, pharmaceuticals, energy and telecommunications. I have been utilizing this strategy for the last few years and getting about a 16% growth rate on stocks IN ADDITION TO and average of 5.25% annual dividend return. Check some of the following ticker symbols: VZ, T, CNP, NI, BMY LLY, DUK, WR, EXC, NYB, PFE. You will recognize many of the names. Look for a Company with a good dividend yield, a long history of dividend payment and income in excess of the dividend. DISCLAIMER - This is what I do and what has worked for me but is not to be taken as investment advice. Seek qualified assistance to evaluate your own specific needs.
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