I’m a big fan of Vanguard, because they have low fees, excellent products, and they’re not as leveraged as their competitors.
I have both a SEP-IRA for my business, and an individual IRA. On years where I bill a lot through my company, I can contribute a lot, tax free to the SEP IRA. Years where I’m on a W2, I add to the personal account. My accountant is kind enough to give me my options, and potential tax savings, before we file my returns.
If you’re fairly young, you can just put everything into an index fund like VTSAX (Vanguard). Your savings will increase at the rate of the overall stock market (and fall with it too). If you’d bought $10k 10 years ago, it would be nearly $40k today. It would be hard to do that well on your own. NYTimes recently ran an article recommending this strategy.
Individual stocks are a bad idea for someone who has a busy life and doesn’t want to be glued to charts and graphs on a screen. But if you really like a company’s long term prospects, go ahead and buy a few shares, and go for the ride. From the Atlantic: “Imagine you’d invested $1,000 in Apple in April 2003, when shares bottomed out at $6.56. Today, those shares would be worth more than $226,000…”
If you want some entertainment, you can follow Wall Street Bets on reddit. I sometimes buy a few shares of the meme stocks, just to watch what happens. I like helping the Davids take on the Goliaths. I’m way up on GME and AMC, but I only put in as much as I feel I can loose. Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll close them out today.
By all means you should roll those 401k’s into your own account. My My brother died almost 3 years ago and I’m still finding accounts that had bits of money in them.
This is not financial advice. Consult a professional.