There is no shortage of investment products out there. In addition to stocks and bonds, there are exotic hedge funds and insurance products.
Fortunately, you don't have to try and make sense out of them. In fact, you can construct a sensible portfolio with just two index mutual funds – one stock and one bond.
To reach your goals, you don't need to shoot for spectacular returns. Individual investors can outpace the market with moderately above-average returns in good times, as long as they don't lose too much money in bad times.