Ah, what might have been... just looked at how a bunch of the stocks I bought during my last couple years in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have done over the years since then. Just the ones I bought on my own, not retirement plans or options and grants and the like. Lets take a look at how they all have done over my initial cost basis. (Not counting dividends, which on a couple were pretty significant.)
GRMN, up 348%
WAB, up 201%
AAPL, up 127%
MER, up 117%
BAY, up 109%
PWI, up 72%
SPY, up 20%
DIA, up 17%
and then I did have three stinkers...
QQQQ, down 12%
TIVO, down 60%
VIGN, down 97%
Overall, not that bad...
Of course, thing is, a lot of those gains were in the last 2 years. And, well, in 2004 and 2005 I was strapped for cash and had to sell my stocks to live and such. I didn't want to, I had to. Part of that whole thing with the previous job never coming through with what they had promised.
In any case, I didn't sell it all. I actually kept one single share of each of the above. Just to say I still have some. So I can still be happy when they make new highs! And I still made out OK, most of them were up when I sold them, but not by all that much. I would have been a lot happier if I'd managed to hold on to what I originally had of each of those!
My original intention was to hold onto all of them for decades, but that just was not to be. :-)
I haven't bought anything new outside of 401K's for several years now. Once the house is sold and things are stabilized again, perhaps I'll start buying a little bit of a few things again.
Of course, the very instant I do that will be the signal that the market has topped again, and we're due for another correction for a few years... :-)