Market timing, a well known term learned in Investing 101, is exciting and can be quite profitable yet stock picking is oftentimes very fickle and given how the tide shifts over time is usually not best for one nearing retirement. For beginners to retirees that want to get in the game with owning stocks, buying a stock index fund is a great place to start. Sure if you are as young as my 12 year old son – who recently bought his first stock ETF I might add – you can take all the risk you want as you have time on your side, but for those nearing retirement, individual stocks can be taking on more risk than appropriate. That said, you have the option of buying a mutual fund, index fund or exchange traded fund. As Brett Arend of the WSJ wrote in an article ‘Hot Stocks For a New Decade? Wait a Minute!’ “Weed out your high-fee mutual funds. Most funds charge a bundle: Few are worth it. Unless a fund is exceptional, you’re better off in a low-cost index fund.” I could not have said it better myself!