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It's that tiresome time of year when financial pundits trot out "investing lessons" from the last 12 months.

These are commonly obvious, rear-facing recaps that serve nobody.

After all, who cares if 2013 was the year of social media if you weren't in on the Twitter (TWTR) IPO or if you didn't buy Facebook (FB) at $25? And what good is calling 2013 an ugly year for emerging markets if you've already ridden Brazil down to the bottom?

So today, I'd like to give my twist on this year-end theme by making things a little more forward looking.

Here are strategies that will serve you well in 2014 — and perhaps longer — that you should have learned if you were watching something other than Carl Icahn, Twitter or Tesla in the past 12 months:

1. Buy and hold works

Vanguard sucked up $130 billion of inflows in 2012 thanks to its rather boring but effective lineup of low-cost index funds. And investors who piled in were richly rewarded in 2013, as the major indexes delivered their best run since 2003.

But if you think this was just a one-year fluke, think again. Consider the S&P 500 (SPX) has provided a total return of about 10 percent on average every year from 1926. And more recently, the total annual return of the S&P has averaged about 15 percent since 1970.

Also consider that when Mark Hulbert compiled his five-year rankings of more than 200 investment-advisory services a few months ago, the top three were ALL buy and hold strategies.

The lesson of 2013 isn't just that buy-and-hold investing worked (past tense), but that it works (present tense). Remember this before you start tinkering or fretting about valuations in 2014.

2. Forecasting doesn't work

Robert Seawright recently put together a great list of Wall Street's "best" forecasts for 2013… which all missed the mark by between 16 percent and 30 percent.

The "smart money" analysts also have poor track records with individual stocks, too. Case in point: In May, an analyst at Maxim Group who upped his price target on J.C. Penney (JCP) from $16.50 to $27 — right before Penney gave up 50 percent and currently trades under $9 a share. Deutsche Bank's forecast was almost as bad, with analysts there increasing their price target to $18 in May.

But hey, at least they only considered JCP a "hold" at the time.

Sure, some forecasters get it right. But nobody gets it right frequently enough to be depended upon — so stop using investment bank research as your primary source for buy or sell calls. It will only end in disappointment.

3. Stop buying negative yield TIPS

If you want to have a fun debate on "real" vs. perceived inflation, much in the way folks debate whether the original "Star Trek" or "The Next Generation" was the superior television series, feel free.

But please don't let your hyperventilation about hyperinflation lose you money — again — in 2014.

Consumer price data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows the rate of inflation hasn't been above 2 percent since October 2012, and hasn't been above 3 percent since December 2011.

As a result, if you invested in Treasury Inflation Protected Securities via a fund like the iShares Barclays TIPS Bond ETF (TIP) to start 2013, you lost about 9 percent of your capital vs. a 25 percent rally for the S&P 500.

But despite this, TIPS have regularly auctioned at negative yields since 2010.

Come on guys. This isn't debate club… just swallow your pride and stop losing money.

4. Be careful with long-term bond funds

The "taper" officially started this week as the Fed cut back on bond purchases.

And while no one knows precisely how the Fed's rates policy will evolve in 2014, a few months back we did get a taste of what happens with even a modest uptick in interest rates.

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Consider that from May to early July, when rates on the 10-year T-Note rose about 1 percent, the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) lost about 15 percent in principle. That's because 95 percent of the holdings are more than 25 years in duration, and the longer the duration the more susceptible bonds are to interest rate increases.

Rates have rolled back a bit, but you can bet they will rise again at some point in 2014. This rough period of rising yields in early 2013 will be instructive as to how things may play out in the New Year.

Consider this as you plot your long-term bond fund holdings in 2014.

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5. You have a LONG way to go

What an amazing 2013, right? Well, when you thank your lucky starts for those 25 percent gains you enjoyed this year, you may want to pray for a repeat performance in 2014. And 2015. And 2016…

Because even after these gains, the average American is woefully behind when it comes to retirement planning.

In early 2013, Fidelity was quick to announce that its average IRA balance this year hit a five-year high… but that was to just $81,000 . The same for Fidelity's average 401k balance of those over 55 — it was up nicely, but only to $255,000.

The old rule of thumb used to be that a retiree needed about 10 times their last year's salary to retire comfortable. But nowadays, with Americans living longer and health care expenses spiraling ever higher, even a million dollars in your retirement portfolio may only buy a modest retirement should you be lucky enough to live 20 to 30 more years after quitting the rat race.

Don't use 2013 as an excuse to take it easy on your retirement plan. You likely have a very long way to go still.

6. Personal preference is not an investing strategy

As I wrote a few months ago, Warren Buffett's folksy "buy what you know" advice is a portfolio killer for people who think personal preference is an investing strategy.

Your frustration with Facebook ads and privacy settings didn't stop the stock from doubling in 2013.

Your grim assessment of brick-and-mortar retail didn't stop Best Buy (BBY) from jumping 250 percent.

Your mockery of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), its cheap laptops and overpriced printers hasn't stopped the stock from surging 80 percent this year.

Remember these lessons.

Also, remember the flip side of personal preference is also true. Case in point: Those Apple (AAPL) fanboys who were super bullish a year ago and had a big bucket of cold water thrown on them with this year's gross underperformance.

There are a host of amazing companies out there that may crash and burn in 2014 despite their consumer appeal. And plenty of much-maligned companies will rise.

That's Wall Street. So make sure that your investing thesis is based on market trends and earnings data… not just consumer hype and the not-so-informed opinion of your neighbors.

7.You can't win if you don't play

Look, calling the next bubble is fun if you're a financial media troll looking for page views or if you're just making conversation while huddled in your bunker this holiday season.

But bubble talk has been incredibly unproductive in every sense over the last few years.

And it will continue to be so in 2014.

Right now, unemployment is 7.0 percent, the lowest level since 2008. GDP for third quarter was revised up from 2.8 percent to 3.6 percent. The Investors Intelligence Survey conducted after Thanksgiving showed about 85 percent of investors were bullish — the highest reading since 1987.

Oh yeah, and the S&P is up 25 percent, its best year since 2003.

You think it's really all going to stop NOW, after what we've been through?

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To be clear, I'd never advocate dumping every penny into stocks because of the big risk involved with that. But 2013 should be proof positive of there is ALSO great risk (or in economic jargon, "opportunity cost") that comes with sitting out the stock market.

If you keep sitting on your hands, you will never do better than the measly returns offered by the bond market and so-called "high interest" CDs.

If that's your idea of a winning hand, so be it. But if not, consider upping the ante for a few hands in 2014 – even if the lion's share of your portfolio is focused on capital preservation.

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