This is sadly true. If you take the 8% annual growth rate in the stock market and subtract inflation, you're not much ahead of the yearly dividend payouts of large companies. I trade quite a bit, but in the last few months the only stock I kept was a steady income fund that gives me 6% return.Most of the growth in the stock market has historically come from dividends. .
I don't like seeing bonds form part of a mutual fund. Why not buy the bond directly and avoid paying the MER?I would avoid trying to pick stocks. I don't think $16,000 is enough to have a reasonably diversified portfolio.
Look into index funds. I've been shopping around and I've decided to go with ING's Streetwise Growth fund. It's 25% Canadian equity, 25% US, 25% international, and 25% bond. If you want to avoid risk in terms of trying to time the market, you can periodically buy a fixed amount in $, leaving the rest is a high interest savings account (3% or so).