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Q: How much will health care cost me in retirement?

A: Retirees and pre-retirees should prepare to pay a lot out of their own pocket for medical expenses not covered by insurance or Medicare. According to Fidelity Investments, an average 65-year-old couple retiring this year will need to have $240,000 socked away just to cover health-care costs for the following 20 years. (This doesn’t include the cost of long-term care, which many people would find useful.)

Remember, though, that that’s an average. Your ultimate cost could be significantly higher — or lower — than the average.

Fool’s school

Snart panicking

The stock market (or a particular stock) could plunge today — or tomorrow. Smart investors expect occasional drops, and they don’t panic, as so many do.

Bailing out is often the worst thing to do, as bad times can be good times to wait, or even buy.

As Warren Buffett has quipped, “Be greedy when others are fearful, but be very fearful when others are greedy.”

Sometimes it does make sense to panic, though, such as when you don’t know why you own what you own. If you have no clue why you bought shares of a company, you’ll have trouble determining when to sell.

Another time to panic is when you have a short time horizon. If you’re invested in stocks for just a few months, then go ahead and hyperventilate right now. As the past few years have reminded us, anything can happen in the short term. Learn more at

Struck out

Dear Fool: My dumbest investment was made around 2002, when on the advice of several people, I bought 10,000 shares of a company with an exciting technology that could evaluate baseball umpires.

At the time, it was listed in newspapers and in the market. A bit later, it was not listed anywhere. Fortunately, I lost only $1,000.

The Fool responds: If you bought 10,000 shares for $1,000, then you paid around 10 cents per share, meaning you were dealing with a company firmly in penny-stock territory.

Such companies can be very exciting and tempting, perhaps working on cures for cancer or drilling for oil, but they’re also extra-risky and more easily hyped and manipulated, owing to their small size. They tend to not have track records of growth and profits.

The Motley Fool Take

Baidu a hot pick?

If you can handle a little extra risk, Chinese search-engine giant Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU), often compared to Google, offers the possibility of extra reward. There’s a lot to like about it, but a few cautions as well.

With a recent market capitalization of about $32 billion, Baidu has been growing rapidly.

Its revenue has averaged annual growth of more than 60 percent over the past five years, with earnings averaging more than 70 percent.

There’s much potential for further growth, too, as perhaps half of China’s billion-plus population is not yet online.

Those wary of Baidu point out its growing debt, significant competition and China itself. Still, given Baidu’s heady growth rate, the stock recently sported a price-to-earnings ratio of just 19, making it seem quite undervalued. Its valuation would be compelling even if its growth rate slows some.