NEW YORK — We all make mistakes with our money sometimes, but that's how we grow. For the new year, The Associated Press asked an expert to talk about his own financial failings — and the lessons learned from them.

NEW YORK — We all make mistakes with our money sometimes, but that's how we grow. For the new year, The Associated Press asked an expert to talk about his own financial failings — and the lessons learned from them.

"I was stupid not to start saving early in a diversified portfolio," says Ben Stein, an economist and TV personality. If I had just put aside $100 a month when I was right out of law school (June 1970) ... it would have been so easy. Then, I shouldn't have tried to pick stocks. I should have bought broad-based mutual funds — index funds and ETFs (exchange-traded funds). I didn't save on a regular, diversified basis until I was much older."

Stein encourages workers to enroll in company-sponsored 401(k)s and other tax-sheltered retirement accounts. And he recommends that savers look at investing in mutual funds such as the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund or Fidelity's Spartan Total Market Index Fund.

He'd also add an emerging markets index fund and a money market fund.

He's not a fan of bonds, saying "the rewards to stocks are so much greater than for fixed-income."