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1. Study the historical and near-term rise of established stocks

The Microsoft example above shows how you can benefit from exploring how certain stocks have outperformed the broader market over long periods. Shorter term, the Wall Street Journal’s research and ratings pages can provide a quick hit of information. Go there, and you’ll see that, at present, an astounding 46 out of 54 analysts call Microsoft a buy — while none label it a sell. These numbers aren't necessarily predictive, but can give you the temperature of a stock.

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2. Leverage 'dividend kings'

Certain stocks offer dividends, a premium extended to shareholders based on company profits. Among them, you can find so-called "dividend kings," which are companies that have raised their distributions yearly for half a century or more. The longevity champion in this category is American States Water, which at 69 years of increases dates back to when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House.

3. Make sure to diversify and review

Whatever held true about your portfolio a generation ago can’t possibly apply today — even if you’re still in fine shape and benefitted from certain long-term trends. Sit down with a financial adviser, or do the work yourself, to ensure you’re getting the most out of solid market trends. As for diversification, take heed if your 401(k) is limited to just a few stocks. Varying your holdings isn’t just a great idea: it’s worthy of a Nobel Prize, which Harry Markowitz won in 1952 by developing modern diversification theory.

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4. Snatch that match on your employer 401(k)

Assuming you’re still at work before retirement, you’ll absolutely want to take advantage of your employer’s 401(k) match program, if one is offered. In a typical scenario, your employer might match 6% of your salary, dollar for dollar, for every dollar you put in up to that 6%. Even the IRS, which is not exactly known for being warm and fuzzy, opines that “you may be walking away from free money” by ignoring such employer match plans.

5. Downsize your life to upsize your retirement fund

Ask yourself: Do you really need that oversized house anymore? Is it time to let go of that enormous vintage coin collection? Between cashing out equity and shedding possessions that hold monetary value, you can position yourself for an abundant retirement in a fairly painless way. In fact, the decreased stress that comes from shedding a lot of stuff can make your retirement that much more abundant. Truly, less is more.

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Lou Carlozo Freelance writer

Lou Carlozo is a freelance contributor to Moneywise.

Disclaimer

The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.