I'm 33. Stable income, few major debts. I read that I should buy stocks at my age, and then get into mutual funds later, but how late is too late?
I have no idea where you read this particular piece of advice because it's not only wrong but confusing. The smart beginning investor who wants to buy stocks will invest in mutual funds because that is a way of investing in stocks without having to guess which stocks to buy. You can invest in a fund that is managed by investment professional (actively managed funds) or buy a fund that invests in a broad basket of stocks that make up an index (like the S&P 500 index). I hope this, and all the other advice you have received clears up the confusion.
Tina, these questions could lead to great harm if not answered properly. To answer them properly more information must be evaluated, information about the client...you. You mention debt, how much and what interest are you paying? Is it a psychological bummer to have this debt? For example, it could be from your charge card used to pay off an old boyfriend's bail, and every time you get the statement your day is wrecked. Pay it off.
Investing in Mutual Funds is in fact investing in the stock market. Can I say something before going forward with unbased suggestions and advice based on little information? Finding a good Financial Advisor is hard and boring. Don't be a victim. Don't be lazy in this. Spend the time, and utilize your intuitions. I wrote the following article for this very situation:
You'll do better in mutual funds most likely. Most people will not sell their loser individual stocks quickly enough and will not keep their winners long enough. Most people chase stories and are not disciplined. Your local stockbroker is likely no better at it.
If you have the ability to have your money managed by the most effective investors in the country (the top mutual fund managers) and they charge less than 1% a year, sometimes much less, is there any reason to think a not very well connected small investor is likely to do better in their spare time than the top pros in the industry?