Simpler that you would think - buy an SP500 Index Fund and a Bond Fund - and then mix them based on your risk level.
I studied this about 40 yrs ago - did the usual things - individual stocks, ETFs, futures contracts, options, penny stocks, etc. I'm an engineer, the math interested me. There are 1000s of books & schemes on how to beat the market - but they are all based on history, predictions based on market patterns from 'last time'. Charting (patterns), Elliot Waves, fibonacci ratios, stocastics, yada. But the data shows that only 15% of professional fund managers are able to beat the market, and it's not even the same 15% every year. And that makes sense - the US market averages 11%/yr, the Funds need to average 14%/yr to pay their employees/overhead and give you 11% - they are choosing from that same population of 500 stocks that are averaging 11%/yr, so it's darn hard to get 14% consistently. So - the answer? quit trying to beat the market and just accept the 11%/yr that it gives you. (It's actually empowering to finally grasp that the market cannot be predicted, that frees you to simply invest rather than 'play the market'. The market is complex in theory, but simple when reduced to practice.
With the top-down mix, you need the higher risk of nearly 100% stock/0% bonds during your younger wealth-building years, And closer to 25%/75% after retirement. When you want more risk, you adjust toward 100/0 to increase your risk - when you want less risk, you adjust toward 0/100 to increase safety. I'm age 76, I'm at about 50%/50%. We get about 4% from the bonds, 11% from the stocks, ie about a 7.5%/yr return.
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