1. Be all and end all of employer 401k plans: My employer uses Prudential and it is by far the most frustrating piece of investment vehicle I have ever seen. I have a million restrictions essentially because of the dearth of an investment choice in Prudential's stable (oh yea they have all those standard large cap, mid cap, blend, international, martian, extra terrestrial funds that almost every other 401k has and believe me in a down-trending or sideways market they all suck, infact they suck in all cases except in a sustained bull market) which I like. The only reason I donate money to my 401k is because of the max 5% employer match. I dont and will never try and max it out and the day my employer stops the match program my 401k contributions will come to an end.
2.US Mutual funds, index funds : Again only in a sustained bull market are these profitable. Also MFs have the distinct disadvantage of being long only, well you might say that they can hedge or short a sector via ultra-short ETFs, but my dear friend there is a severe problem with that (topic for a later time). Also dividends being heavily slashed left, right and center makes MF investing even more mindless. Take a look at the chart. Without dividends the dow's appreciation (inflation adjusted) is just 10% TOTAL since the 1966 peak and 55% TOTAL since the 1929 peak. The market play-book has severely changed for us I am skeptical whether MFs can adjust to this new play book.
3. Stock picking is a waste of time: Yup it is a waste till you try and educate yourself on the market.
4. Nobody can time the market: True but you can position yourself appropriately. For example as of today the S&P has strong resistances at 720 and then a huge one at 741. If today's rally sustains for a day or two and we break 720 upwards and inch towards 741 set yourself up for some major shorting.
5. Frugality as a means to retire early: I have read some weird, hugely popular personal finance blogs where people have made their own detergent, lived a whole week on $20, are yet to see a movie in a theater for the past 5 years and counting, do not have cable, seldom eat out if ever at all, in essence derive themselves of any sort of anything even remotely resembling an iota of personal pleasure. My only reaction to these are "Wow, just wow". I believe in smart, responsible spending, the "some-time" binge spending when the occasion is right and still be able to attain my financial independence goals.
6. Gambling is for the degenerates leading to wealth destruction: I am an avid poker player and have been making close to 700-1k/month (pure savings) on average over the past 1.5 years playing small-micro stakes poker in my severely limited free-time. And I plan to work hard on my game and get ready to play much bigger stakes in the months to come.
And thus the journey starts, a journey towards happiness backed by financial independence, my own personal journey and hopefully I will meet you my friend, around the bend, where hearts can meet and souls can blend, and the numbers on our spreadsheets dont overwhelm.