as a retail investor...there are tools at your disposal..
My best tool is the Jan 2014 covered call...owning a stock and selling a covered call for 1- -15% in Dec...now this premium is only 7.5 to 9%.
Cash, tax deferred in your pocket.....then you spend a few dollars buying near term CHEAP Puts but I would wait until day of earnings
sell Calls with rich premiums now then the day of earnings buy cheap weekly puts
typo...selling a covered call for 10 to 15% premium over market price