1. Cut your losers short, and let your winners run.
2. Avoid predictions and forecasts
3. Understand crowd behavior.
4. Think like a contrarian (but don’t always act like a contrarian).
5. Asset allocation is crucial.
6. Decide if you are an active or passive investor.
7. Understand your own psychological make up.
8. Admit when you are wrong.
9. Understand the cycles of the financial world.
10. Be intellectually curious.
11. Reduce investing friction.
12. There is no free lunch.
Because it's part of the job description, I get a lot of questions about "Where to put retirement/401(k) money?"
As stated before, nobody is great about foreseeing where bond or stock markets will go. The vast majority of actively managed funds do worse than the indexes they're following. The things individual investors can control is their costs and their asset allocations. Everything else is in the hands of Fate.
The only two points above that I disagree with are number one (which doesn't apply if you are investing in broad index funds) and number six. (You can use a mix of active and index funds, therefore NOT deciding.)
The only way I've been effective at building a stash to retire with is
1) lowering my investment costs,
2) living below my means (so I had something left to save), and
3) having a broadly diversified portfolio.
The (almost) last bit of advice with which I leave you: Acquire some investing knowledge, because the more you know, the more effectively you will invest your money. To that end, I give you a (partial) list of gurus.
William J. Bernstein
Final bit: Next week is the last week to get into the Animation Guild 401(k) Plan during the month of January. After Friday the 4th of January, the next deadline will be February 1st, which will leave you with only 11 months in the year to max out a 401(k) in 2013.