All the recent volatility in the market may have given some investors the willies, so here's a fact worth mulling before stuffing your money under a mattress: During the past topsy-turvy month, the S&P 500-tracking SPDRs (AMEX:SPY) exchange-traded fund (ETF) has shed less than 1% of its value. What's more, gobs of equities have actually made money for shareholders. Indeed, a quick screen finds nearly 1,200 stocks that have tacked on more than 5% each. Among them Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Corning (NYSE:GLW).

So much for the market's nosedive, right?

Not exactly
Volatility comes with investing like fleas come with a dog, so savvy types will want to take steps to cushion the fall when Mr. Market throws one of his periodic temper tantrums.

For example, the above power trio of stocks -- which boast earnings-growth prospects of at least 15% over the next five years -- could be intelligently offset with more buttoned-down plays such as Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-B) holding company. When highfliers tumble, after all, a proverbial "flight-to-quality" (i.e., to less richly valued stalwarts like these) often ensues.

Better yet, you could have the best of both worlds and own all the aforementioned stocks in the context of a carefully calibrated portfolio, one that's assembled by a talented team of money managers and sports a price tag of well under 1%.

I'm talking about a world-class mutual fund, of course, one that includes each of the stocks I've called out above. Since I tapped this fund as a recommendation for the Fool's Champion Funds investing service, shareholders have been treated to a gain of nearly 42% -- and far less volatility than they would experience with just a stocks-only portfolio.

Why funds?
I'd argue that even investors of the stock-jock persuasion should at least contemplate laying a foundation of funds before taking on the additional risk that comes with individual stocks. Doing so can help keep you in the game when the market hits the skids, which means that you'll be there for the all-but-inevitable rebound when it occurs.

Not just any fund will do, of course, which is why Champion Funds zeroes in on top-shelf picks that can help grow and protect your nest egg -- and let you get your beauty rest as you work toward financial independence. That's a winning combination, and so far, so good: Despite all the market's ups and downs, every one of our recommendations is in the black. If you'd like to sneak a peek at our Champion Funds winner's list, just click here. A free 30-day guest pass awaits and there's no obligation to subscribe.

Take Champion Funds for a test-drive now and you'll also have access to our latest special reports: The Challenge: ETFs vs. Mutual Funds and Add Kick to Your 401(k)! Just click here to snag the reports, along with your free 30-day guest pass.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service and co-advises Motley Fool Green Light with his pal Dayana Yochim. At the time of publication, he didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. Wal-Mart and Berkshire Hathaway are Inside Value picks. You can check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy by clicking right here.