You know that the recent crash has presented an amazing opportunity to invest. But instead of getting rewarded, those who have taken advantage of falling stock prices throughout 2008 to add to their portfolios have mostly seen further losses -- and many presumably feel like they've made a stupid move.

By now, a lot of you are probably ready to throw your computer screens out the window if anybody else tells you to just calm down and ride out the stock market storm. And judging from the comments on some of the Fool's most popular articles recently, quite a few readers have just about had it with stocks entirely.

Taking no prisoners
So far, two aspects of the current financial crisis have taken the hardest toll on investors. First, this bear has been a long, drawn-out process of bad news followed by apparent solutions that turn out not to be everything we hoped they would be. In turn, those actions bring on new problems -- and thus far, there's no apparent end in sight to the cascade of ugly economic data and unintended consequences that seem to follow every government intervention.

Even more painful has been how this bear market has brought so many stocks down with it. In 2001 and 2002, shareholders in old-economy stocks like 3M (NYSE:MMM) and Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) managed to find shelter from the big losses that less fortunate investors in tech giants like (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) suffered. The bubble had only affected part of the economy, so only part of the economy came crashing down when that bubble burst.

This time around, though, it's hard to find a stock that's managed to rise in the face of the panic. So far, companies that focus on offering bargains to investors -- companies like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) -- have held up pretty well in comparison to businesses like Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) that offer higher-priced luxury items. For the most part, though, the freefall has pushed down stocks of all sizes in nearly every sector of the market.

But you already know all that. The question is: What are you gonna do about it?

Fight back
Despite the market's seemingly endless attempts to push your net worth back toward zero and beyond, you're not powerless. There are ways that you can fight back -- and you owe it to yourself to give them a try.

But what's the smartest way? The main objection to all the one-size-fits-all advice you read these days is that it often doesn't speak to you and your situation. Sure, stocks might be a great opportunity -- but what if you're already retired and need that money now? Conversely, dividend stocks might give you nice income if you need it -- but if you're young enough to have 30 years or more left in the market, are they the best stocks to get you to your goals?

For more than four years, our Rule Your Retirement service has offered specific advice for investors hungry to learn more. In a new special report, longtime Fool expert Shannon Zimmerman offers a detailed, extensive guide to rebuilding your lost wealth. And while there's way too much information to go into detail about here, the main theme boils down to one important point:

No matter how badly you've been hurt, you don't have to give up on your financial goals. You can bounce back and win in the long run.

Shannon then backs up that assertion with analysis and easy-to-follow advice for investors of all ages. From up-and-coming young adults to terrified retirees, the report tells you what to do to get yourself back in the game. And it's not just sitting back and waiting it out -- there are steps you can take right now to shore up your portfolio and get yourself in a better position to profit from whatever the future brings.

We're offering this special report free to our Rule Your Retirement subscribers -- if you’re not a subscriber, a free 30-day trial gives you access to this and many other useful resources.

Don't let the events of the past year destroy your hopes for a prosperous financial future. You can recover -- let Rule Your Retirement help show you the way.

For more on protecting your portfolio, read about:

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has been buying TIPS fairly steadily over the past few months. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Wal-Mart and 3M are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy gives you nothing to fear.