I think it’s wise for most people, myself included, to take a step back and remember that stocks and stock-based investments should serve one main purpose: to preserve and grow money over the very long term (10+ years) and try to keep ahead of inflation.
Trying to use the market as a way to “make money” isn’t a very reliable plan. The best way to make money seems to be the old-fashioned way: to make money. Directly. By performing a job or offering a service or making things and getting people to pay you money in return.
Want more money? Create a reason for more people to pay you money. Taking a side job or starting a side business is likely to get you far more additional money than even a good year invested in the stock market, and it’s much less risky if you can do something that doesn’t require much of an initial investment.
In that regard, an “investment” is something that enables you to make money. An education is an investment. Tools that you use to do a monetizable job are an investment. Raw materials that you convert into salable goods are an investment. (Of course, it’s up to you to execute well with any of these.)
For most of us, the financial market should simply be a place for us to store the money we generate from our “real” sources, not a way to make significant money itself.
When I look at it that way, those 4% bank CDs are looking pretty good right now.