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Why You Shouldn’t Wait To Make Key Investing Moves

December 1, 2016, 11:30 AM UTC

When I was 37, my brother-in-law’s next-door neighbor Tony told me to stop renting and buy an apartment. I couldn’t afford it, I told him. “You won’t be able to afford it next year either,” he said. “Only by then, you’ll have spent another year in rent money you’ll never get back.”

Within a month of that conversation, my wife and I put in a bid to buy our first home. The down payment check was the largest either of us had ever written, by a factor of at least 10. Then we spent more money we didn’t have, to renovate. It was the best investment we ever made.

Well, until the next big investment.

When my wife and I decided to have a child, we both wondered how we would be able to afford one. (We had just bought an apartment, after all.) Years earlier, as a budding reporter, one of my first magazine pieces had been headlined “Pricing That Bundle of Joy.” The story—which was little more than a tally of child-related expenses—had scared the heck out of me.

But, yes—as every Tony and Tina in my life told me it would be—having a daughter was, and is, the best thing either my wife or I have ever done.

When it comes to living, waiting to start has always been a sucker’s game. And the same goes for investing. As the great sages tell us, you can’t time the market. If you’re building a nest egg for the long term, there is no “right” moment to get in.

That’s one key takeaway from our 2017 Investor’s Guide—a veritable bounty of insight, advice, and wealth-growing ideas. As my colleague Matt Heimer, who shepherded this extraordinary package of stories, points out in the guide’s introduction, anyone who reviewed a quick B-roll of 2016 would have seen a terrain that looked utterly inhospitable for investors. Corporate earnings floundered. Then came Brexit. Then came a Trump tsunami that the market commentariat had previously predicted would sink stocks.

“So how serious was the damage?” asks Heimer. As of late November, the S&P 500 was up 8.7%, including dividends, over the previous 12 months. And over the same period, Fortune’s picks from our 2016 Investor’s Guide nearly doubled that gain—garnering a 16.7% return. So much for market timing.

There is little question that 2017 will offer its own share of scares: from the continued fallout of Brexit to a possible Frexit (or Italeave) to the ever present threat of a disabling cyberattack. And then there are the more endemic challenges of lofty stock valuations, ballooning budget deficits, and the turbulent end of a three-decade-long bull market in bonds. Add the gyrations of a new kingpin and Congress in Washington, and it’s all likely to make investors’ heads spin.

We’re hoping this special double issue of Fortune can serve as an antidote. In the pages that follow, you’ll find 34 of our own best stock and fund recommendations to get your investment portfolio soaring—and keep you grounded. We also offer 14 stock picks from our distinguished roundtable of expert investors (check over the next few days for that article).

Of course, you could wait another year or so until all this craziness calms down. But then someone will have to break the news to my friend Tony.

A version of this article appears in the December 15, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “No Time to Wait.”