Gallup Economy and Personal Finance Poll (Stocks Rank Second as Best Long-Term Investment)
Many millennials are still hopeful, though. About a quarter of those between 18 and 34 ranked stocks and mutual funds as their No. 1 long-term investment option, higher than savings accounts, CDs, gold and bonds. Real estate ranked highest, with 32 percent of respondents ranking it as their top choice.
That's a common misconception: Returns on the residential housing market are "not making anybody rich," says certified financial planner Eric Roberge. "You're barely keeping up with inflation, not to mention all of the costs that go along with owning a home."
Astudy from London Business School and Credit Suisse finds that, after adjusting for inflation, housing offered returns around 1.3 percent per year from 1900 to 2011. The average annualized total return for the S&P 500 index over the past 90 years, meanwhile, is 9.8 percent.
If you're thinking of investing, experts suggest keeping a level head even during times of market volatility. And while "there is not a one-size-fits-all answer" for handling the uncertainty, Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at consumer financial company Bankrate, tells CNBC Make It that a well-balanced and diverse portfolio can help mitigate risk.
Investing experts Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban and Tony Robbins suggest beginning with index funds, which hold every stock in an index, offer low turnover rates, attendant fees and tax bills, and fluctuate with the market to eliminate the risk of picking individual stocks.
And have patience: "The stock market is a long-term investment, it is not a get-rich-quick scheme," McBride says. "You have to have the discipline to hang in there when markets get volatile. Over time, you are rewarded for that risk with high returns, but you [have to] hang on through thick and thin."
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Video by Andrea Kramar