A good rule of thumb:
If you're ready to invest in individualstocks, start by asking yourself if you havetime to do the research needed to makeintelligent stock choices. If you don't, youmay be doomed to follow the herd, chasinghot stocks and dumping those thathave good prospects. Numerous marketstudies have shown that individualinvestors have a tendency to buy losersand sell winners. You also need to spendtime putting together an investment planand an allocation strategy (ie, how muchof your portfolio will be in stocks, bonds,and cash). Thesooner you need to get at your money, theless risk you want to take on, whichmeans safer investments, like bonds andmoney market accounts, rather thanstocks.