I'm flexible. I don't play the "retirement account" or "retirement planning" game to any great extent, and I have done very well (after taxes, yes) staying away from that paradigm. If I would just keep my $ in the bank and collect essentially no interest, I would already have done better upon retirement than I would have by having gone a "conventional" route.
Having said that, I'm still interested in growth. I don't micromanage things, however--I like to pick a basket of equities, and hold onto them long enough to make the capital gains long-term and until I no longer like the look of the way the market is shaping up. Last year's massive gains made me nervous--there's something wrong with 30% in one year. Either it went too high, or it was too low to start with, or both, or nobody knows what the heck they are doing, but the point is that something is wrong with things because 30% per annum, overall, is unjustifiable. Just think of the chaos when there is a 30% drop. To me the two occurrences are equivalent.
I'll wait until it feels right. Again, I'm no spring chicken, I have been around for my fair share of cycles.
The things that anchor me are that people all around the world are fundamentally greedy to some extent; also that they are, as a whole, profoundly ignorant; also that there is a great deal of corruption and it is increasing daily; also that the upcoming generations are incredibly unsophisticated, yet smart enough to be generally distrustful; also that a relatively small segment will control not only the markets but the general directions of societies; also that western values and civilization are on the wane; etc. These things all lead to one paradigm: control of the many by the few, in a very general sense in democracies, in a very direct sense elsewhere.
The best way to use the market is to list securities for public sale--THAT is the way you can make real money off the market. I'm not talking about incremental advance, I'm talking about real money. Other than that, you can scrabble around in the markets, hoping to feed of the scraps left over by the big boys.
At some point in your trajectory, fair enough, depending on who you are. I know I myself have changed in this respect, I am more inclined now to settle on some sort of index fund than I used to be. I'm not so far gone as to do bonds yet, but I could see it happening some day. Flexible, yet evolving.
I also thought that I would never seriously consider, for instance, gold, because it is antithetical to actually doing any work on property to increase value--but here I am, considering gold. Not to bury in my basement, but to buy and sell. And not mining stocks. I still remember BRE-X.
I have asked the question on this board before, how much do you need to have before you can be relatively comfortable? I have expressed the opinion that a couple of million won't do it, because it can disappear easily through devaluation and confiscation. My question was answered to some extent for England, IIRC it was 7 million pounds, or 17, or maybe USD, that you needed before you would be considered squarely in the senior league. In the US, in 2011, the figure (through survey) was 7.5 million USD.
I know what they mean. I don't have that much. If I did, I would likely feel comfortable, very comfortable. That is around the figure that I think, too, although I might lower it to $5m. Below that, you're really vulnerable in my mind. So I need to keep going.
What I read, I assimilate, I don't necessarily believe. It is still important to be aware of it, even if it is designed only as propaganda, as a ruse, or as advertising. I haven't yet been caught with my pants down--if I had to bet (and I do), I would bet (and I have) on a significant correction happening at the least, or a real crash, depending on whether there is a big enough precipitating event, like a major epidemic, an electrical grid failure, huge crop failures in the breadbasket countries, widespread drought.
If I lose my bet, I don't lose that much, because I am willing to go with the punches and get back in. For that price, I would have gained some peace of mind, which is what I now have. I still believe I made the right move, and am absolutely satisfied. For now.