You are not smarter than the market

retirement mistakes Ikoku
  • Name: Noel Ikoku
  • Age: 60
  • City: Charlotte, N.C.

Working in tech support on Wall Street in the 1980s and 1990s, Noel Ikoku was convinced he could be a "world beater stock picker."

He sunk his IRA and brokerage account into individual stocks and didn't take advantage of his company's 401(k).

"Sure, I hit a few home runs but nowhere near as many as the strikeouts," he said. "When I look back at my returns in those years it's pretty bad."

Related: Are you making this retirement mistake?

So in his 40s he switched gears and started investing his 401(k) and brokerage account in low-cost index funds.

After several decades of steady contributions, Ikoku now has about $1.5 million in savings.

"It's pretty simple stuff," he said. "I think you have to come to terms with the fact you're not a market genius and you're never going to be one."

First published August 28, 2014: 4:12 PM ET

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