In 2005 I bought myself a grown-up birthday present of putting $1500 into a scottrade account and buying stocks. It got up to $1700 at one point. But now it's around $1200, and the only reason it's not lower is because I sold a bunch at the beginning of the year when I'd kinda maybe come out ahead.
I'm just not that interested in it, 2005 was a tough year to start investing, things were high, and I got frustrated and then sat out the years where big gains were happening. And then there's this other problem, where I picked some good stocks that made some money and sold those, but then had these awful stocks that lost it all and I didn't know what to do with them.
AMD was what really killed me I think, it had been in the $30-$40 range and was, I thought, a good company... I've bought their chips! So when it fell to $26 I jumped on it thinking it was a great long term investment. It wasn't. It's like $5 all the time now. So I lost a huge chunk on that one, and I'm just holding it because... who knows. I guess I feel like if I sell it ten years after I buy it, that's like losing hundreds of dollars over the course of ten years, and that's not so bad.
So that's the deal, I lost $20 a share on AMD, but never gained $20 a share on any other stock, I gained like $3 or $5.
I called Scottrade and they sent me a check for $800 of my account that's in cash, and the rest is held up in $400 worth of crappy stocks but hey, they can't get much crappier, might as well leave them there. I'm going to spend part of it on drawers for the guest room since the decade-old particle board ones aren't making it.
I don't know why I think my 401K will help me retire happily someday, history has never been kind to me when it comes to investments. I still remember that $1000 I put away before college so I'd have money to get my start after college... and after college it was $600. Just not there for me at all! I let it come back up, but still ended up netting less than I would have if I'd just kept it in a boring bank savings account.
My conclusion of the year: there really is no such thing as a free lunch.