It is hard to do both but you’re not supposed to. You’re supposed to get your safety net down THEN try to do high wire acrobatics above it – not set up the two at the same time. So get retirement and your emergency fund squared away, then consider the stock market (taxable) and real estate. There’s no rush! Don’t let others dictate your future because they don’t have the same priorities as you. 🙂

So many great tips in this big post, thanks! I think it’s so true that people should focus on the things they do well at and are interested in. And yes save, save, save in the beginning and throughout. I have several interest and dividend earning investments and am looking to expand further. Diversification is a great goal for all of us so we can avoid having all our eggs in one basket.
First: I understand why you would say that such investments are restricted to only accredited investors, because generally, that’s true. There are means, under federal securities regulations and Blue Sky laws in each state, to sell interests to non-accredited investors – but usually those means are so heavily regulated and involve disclosures so similar to cumbersome registration requirements that it is not worth it for the seller to offer to non-accredited investors.
We have decided to invest in 2 ETFs, a multi asset allocation ETF (Fixed Inc, alts and div paying equities) and a preferred stock ETF. This will cover almost 45 percent of our deficit. We will be extremely diversified, can access the markets at a very low cost and the investments are liquid. On this pool of $, we have no plans to invade principal unless the investment grows by 20 percent, which we think is unlikely given the characteristics of the investments.

Think about it.  If you are saving for retirement, you are trying to save enough in investing to generate enough income to replace your primary salary.  Let’s take my friend’s example above: $50,000 a year.  To generate $50,000, you would need to have almost $1,700,000 saved, and be able to generate a 3% cash flow on that money (which is reasonable if invested in dividend paying stocks).

An obvious example is over exposure to bank stocks, which have been excellent investments for over a century.  Though a foundation of most portfolios, bank stocks do involve more risk at certain stages of the economic cycle than many realise.  Being less exposed to bank shares in the last few months could have preserved some capital.  So, a more diversified approach can help mitigate some of these risks.