Once upon a time when I was in grad school I invested in the stock market. Gold, I think. Or maybe oil. My dad thought it would be a great idea and a good learning tool, so I researched for months before committing and then finally took the plunge. I only played the stock market for a short while, maybe four months or so, but it was enough to give me my first wrinkles.
I did the online stock trading thing, which was simpler than anticipated (unnervingly so). And I actually managed to make a little bit of money (very little for the amount of thinking and nail biting that was involved). The problem was that I worried all the time about the stocks (all. the. time.). I checked them constantly and was always thinking about whether I should cash out. Several times I would be absolutely surely totally ready to get out, but then the stock would go up just a *little* bit. So, I'd wait just a *little* longer to see what happened.
In a stroke of pure luck, I liquidated right before September 11th. I cashed out because the whole system felt too much like gambling and gave me entirely too much anxiety. Even though I personally did fine and didn't lose any money in the big market crash of 2001, it still scared the pants off me.
Since then I've stuck to fixed rate CD's and property investments. I get a lot of grief from my retirement adviser for refusing to diversify into stocks again, but it helps me sleep at night. And with three kids three years and under, I'll take all the sleep I can get!
I realize the returns may not be huge and I may need to come up with more capital over the long haul, but at least I know my money will continue to grow and won't ever hit zero!
***The story is mostly true, but please note, this was a compensated post.