How to Buy a Stock

Secrets from an investing genius.

Read Benjamin Graham's 1949 classic, The Intelligent Investor (updated in 2003), which Warren Buffett has called "the best book on investing ever written." Predicting market meltdowns such as the one from 2008, Graham explains in 531 pages how to profit off other investors' panic.

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Don't have time to read it? Then you don't have time to tend to a stock portfolio. Instead, buy the whole market through a fund such as the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index (VTSMX). Sure, you give up the chance to make 20 times your money, but you're almost guaranteed not to lose your shirt either. In fact, in the past five years, nearly 70 percent of mutual funds that own shares in big companies failed to beat the market, and small-cap, mid-cap, and international funds did even worse versus comparable indices, according to data from Standard & Poor's.

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