Semi-retired CPA. 55 years old. I am steadily relying on my investment income for retirement. My practice is slowly fading away and is a means to pay my health insurance and medical expenses. Started investing thru my mother's account at age 14. I owe so much to my mother who taught me so much about investing. She had me keep her charting up for her. She had me watching the ticker on TV when it became available to the masses. I learned company ticker symbols using California 3 letter license plates in a game we would play whenever we drove anywhere. I learned her investment philosophy which was based on long term charting of stocks that had remained dormant for years hoping they were on the verge of breaking out to the upside. She was very successful using this methodology. My mom had me sitting with her watching the old Wall Street Week, Agronsky & Co., Washington Week, Nightly Business Report, etc. I started out understanding next to nothing in the beginning but gradually began to understand everything. She emphasized importance of understanding the interrelationship of the economy and government because government could make or break your investments. Our investment philosophies ended up being so different but I rely on that solid core I learned in those early years for so many things even to this day. My focus is constructing a portfolio of solid total return investments. Too many investors focus on high income at any price or high risky income because they did not accumulate enough assets to lower their risk profile and desperately need or want a desired level of income and are taking way too much risk to get it. We all need income to live in a retirement time frame much longer than anyone could have expected when we were all young. We also need a greater measure of capital growth because life's highest expenses may be in our future and our assets must keep up with the higher cost of living in the future. I was smashed to pieces like so many in late 2008. Had to lick my wounds and figure out how to move forward. I read an article by Prof. Timothy Considine (then at Univ of PA) in late 2008/early 2009 about the future of energy and I completely bought into it choosing the MLP space as the primary focus believing in an eventual recovery of MLPs but more importantly the story that 25 years of incredible infrastructure growth lay ahead and the MLPs were best suited to perform that service so the E&Ps maintain their capital for exploration and production. Still licking my wounds I focused on the MLP sector in general believing in a general recovery meaning all boats would rise which they did. BUT, there comes a moment and I learned this from my mother, there comes a moment where the general part of a recovery must give way to an intense focus on the very best companies within the industry you believe in. So I moved from a general focus to specific best of breed MLPs. I chose based on an understanding of each MLP's asset map and future potential to build out. I focused on organic growth over acquisition growth because Wall Street has destroyed so many companies over the years playing the acquisition game. Prof. Considine's thesis of a long term infrastructure build out meant you had to choose companies with the financial firepower (balance sheet) and asset map that allowed for much more organic growth than competing MLPs whose history was more reliant on higher cost acquisition growth. In this zero interest rate environment many sub-par MLPs could prosper but the trick was to find the best of breed that could prosper in a normalized interest rate world which is the next chapter in our economy. I also focused on MLPs that were starting to jettison their GPs. MMP was the first and they paid 11x ebitda to buy out their GP. BPL and NRY were among the last to buy out their GPs and paid 23-26x ebitda which was crazy and an indication of how late they were to the game. MMP has prospered big time while the latter two MLPs have faltered in large part because they paid too much and waited too long to buy out their GPs. I bought MMP when they made the announcement. Wall Street analysts were skeptical about MMP's move and thought 11x ebitda was too much to pay. These same analysts thought paying 10x ebitda for a pipeline acquisition was reasonable but understand they get a lot more fees from the latter than the former. I knew I was on to something very good and have a large portion of my assets in the MLPs that bought out their GPs. So to boil it down I have MLPs as core and absent tax law changes will be a major factor in my retirement plan. I also own a few best of breed BDCs and some common stock with good dividend payout histories and histories of good growth in dividends. I used the 2008/9 crash to convert my IRA to a ROTH. My first transfer out of my traditional IRA was AAPL at $167; sold in my ROTH for $596. My mom always said use tragedy and adversity to your advantage an converting to a ROTH was my greatest leap of faith. When I was younger I did very well in growth stocks without dividends but I have reached an age where I do not want to work as hard as I have worked so I do not have that same salary backup behind me that allows for taking that level of risk. However my risk portion of the portfolio is more measured with stocks like AIG, LCC, and WMB. I am an HNWI. Not meant to brag, simply to state that I have accomplished my dream and enjoy responding to SA writings to give some wisdom from lessons learned, ideas for what to look for in (specifically) MLP investments, and in the case of Mreits hopefully get a few people to understand they must start learning about interest rate cycles in order to successfully play the cycle. I dumped all Mreits in NOV 2012 because I could see the winds of change that very much paralleled the GNMA and GNMA fund breakdowns in the 1980s. When the time comes I will begin looking at bonds and preferred again because the cycle will eventually reach that point where it will make sense to own bonds and preferred but not yet.