No, it's not a dirty word, and yes, they are cheap. If you owned stocks through the downturn you understand just how cheap they have become falling, on average, more than 53% from peak to trough. That alone does not make the market a bargain. More important is how far prices have fallen relative to corporate profits. But there, too, we see the market is offering a steep discount. If you have more than five years to hold, now is a great time to dip back into stocks. Consider a broad index fund like Fidelity's Spartan Total Market Index Fund or Vanguard's Total Stock Market Index Fund. In both cases, the prices of these funds relative to the earnings of the companies in the index have dropped more than 40%. "The total market funds have a lot of appeal when just about everything in the market is cheap, like now," says Russ Kinnel, director of research at fund research firm Morningstar. You get great diversification and the lowest investing fees anywhere. These funds could get even cheaper. But they are a simple, smart way to get and stay invested for the recovery.
Recession Shopping: 10 Things to Buy Right Now
Some things are getting cheap, but they won't stay that way forever