6. Don't go with any one "great" bond idea
Even corporations with investment-grade ratings (remember Enron and Lehman Brothers) can offer coal in the stocking. Whatever great idea you have to survive the bond exodus should still be only a slice—10 percent or less—of your total fixed income allocation.
7. Do five minutes of research, it's well worth it
A friend, who asked me to look at her bonds with her, had holdings in an energy corporation that is going to be mothballing a nuclear power plant—to the tune of $800 million to a billion dollars—potentially twice as much as the company has in its decommissioning fund. It took less than five minutes to discover this. What meltdowns are hiding in your nest egg? It will pay to know this now, while there is still time to protect your investment portfolio.
8. Do pay attention to the history of the Fed
On Aug. 30, 2013, I interviewed Kathy Jones, vice president, fixed income strategist, Schwab Center for Financial Research. She'd been staying up late, reading Fed minutes dating back to 1918, and had discovered some interesting things.
The period of the 1940s and 1950s was the only time in history (that she discovered) where the Fed's balance sheet was 20 percent of GDP. During that period, the Feds tried to raise rates, and the economy slid back into a mild recession. According to Jones, "Even though short-term rates had gone up to about 1.5 percent, it took 18 years from the low for long-term rates to go back to where they were before this maneuver."
What's interesting about this comparison is that it describes what happened in the European Union over the last few years. If Kathy's correlation proves prescient, and a low interest rate environment persists, income-producing hard assets will be the best strategy, as will protecting yourself from the stampedes in and out of bond funds.
(Read more: It's year-end financial planning season)
9. Do invest in hard assets
Hard assets outperform paper assets in periods of inflation. The traditional favorite would be income property, particularly at today's low interest rates. However, don't overlook the value of less typical hard assets. Investing in energy efficiency upgrades, for example, could reduce your costs by $4,000 or more each year. That's equivalent to an 8 percent return on a $50,000 investment.
Why include hard assets in an article on fixed income? When bonds are vulnerable and you are not getting rewarded for risk, it could be easier to earn a steady income, and have a chance of increased value, in carefully selected income property and residential energy efficiency upgrades. An investment in reducing or eliminating your electric and gasoline costs equates to money in your own pocket, potentially for the rest of your life.
When bonds are vulnerable to both interest and credit risk, with a very low yield relative to the capital exposure, getting creative about fixed income and capital preservation will generate the best return.
10. Don't take anyone else's advice (over your own)
Are you relying upon the recommendations of a friend or a relative? Is the expert managing your portfolio really worthy of blind faith? As TD Ameritrade Chairman Joe Moglia always says, "No one cares about your money more than you do." Take your job, as the CEO of your life and your money, seriously. You're the boss. The experts ultimately answer to you, and it's only you who loses if they don't perform.
—By Natalie Pace, Special to CNBC.com.
Pace is the author of "The ABCs of Money" and "You Vs. Wall Street." Follow her on
Twitter.com/NataliePace and Facebook.com/NatalieWynnePace, or on her website, NataliePace.com.