Driving Analogies
and an update on the E-IRA

by Ann Coleman (TMF

Alexandria, VA (Jan. 15, 1999) -- It's been a wild week with the market making new highs only to drop back and then recover some. It's the kind of week that makes one appreciate the Foolish Four's disciplined and laid back investing strategy.

Reader shared this analogy, which is particularly apt after this week's frantic activity:

"Being in the stock market is like driving in the city. The day traders and market timers are those folks who swerve in and out of traffic dodging fire hydrants and tattooing their hood ornaments on your rear bumper. Long-term investors just coast along watching the hustle and bustle around them knowing that at the end of the block they'll be in the same starting position when the light turns green."

Of course, this week has been like driving in the city on ice -- tough on your nerves if you have some place you really need to get to.

It's been a good week for driving analogies, though. Reader wrote:

"The Motley Fool's philosophy of investors being in the driver's seat is appealing because I know if someone else is "driving" I won't pay attention."

Isn't it wonderful, though, that we can take charge of our investments and still have time for the rest of our lives?

My favorite way to travel by car is asleep. The Foolish Four is like driving a science fiction car -- you get in, program your destination, and ignore the whole thing until you arrive. You can devote your time to studying more sophisticated ways to invest, other personal finance topics or quantum cosmology. You can even use that spare time to get those Education IRAs started so that little Josh or Jennifer can study quantum cosmology.

Foolish reader has been looking into Education IRAs and found two websites of interest about a new bill in Congress that would temporarily increase the maximum contribution to $2000 per year for the next four years. This would certainly be a major boon to those of us with older children or dreams of Harvard. (Of course, getting into Harvard isn't so easy no matter how much tax-free cash you have stashed away.) gives an overview and gives all the legislative details.

Right now, the increase is linked to a provision that would allow the funds to be used for private elementary and secondary schools. This part has strong opposition so don't get your hopes up too high. Still, it's nice to know that the idea of an increase is being discussed.

Next week: Starting Tuesday we report on an interview with Michael O'Higgins (of Beating the Dow fame) and his latest book, Beating the Dow with Bonds. That's right. Bonds. Mr. O'Higgins sees a highly overvalued market that is headed for disaster as sure as surely as the market was 70 years ago. Does history repeat itself? Should a Fool be worried?

Fool on and prosper! (or Fool on and worry?)

Fools Wanted: Apply Within.

 Recent Foolish Four Portfolio Headlines
  12/28/00  Modifying Mechanical Strategies
  12/27/00  Beating the S&P Year 2000 Recap
  12/26/00  After-Hours Quotes
  12/22/00  Why Include the Foolish 4 Port?
  12/21/00  The Value of Community Input
Foolish Four Portfolio Archives »  

Today's Stock Lists | 1998 Dow Returns

01/15/99 Close
Stock  Change   Last
CAT  +  13/16  47.56
JPM  +7  3/8   109.00
MMM  +2  5/16  74.44
IP   +  15/16  45.00
                   Day   Month    Year   History
        FOOL-4   +3.43%   3.04%   3.04%   4.57%
        DJIA     +2.41%   1.73%   1.73%   1.33%
        S&P 500  +2.56%   1.14%   1.14%   2.53%
        NASDAQ   +3.14%   7.09%   7.09%   8.56%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At       Now    Change

 12/24/98   24 Caterpillar   43.08     47.56    10.41%
 12/24/98   22 Int'l Paper   43.55     45.00     3.33%
 12/24/98    9 JP Morgan    105.51    109.00     3.31%
 12/24/98   14 3M            73.57     74.44     1.18%

    Rec'd   #  Security     In At     Value    Change

 12/24/98   24 Caterpillar 1034.00   1141.50   $107.50
 12/24/98   22 Int'l Paper  958.12    990.00    $31.88
 12/24/98    9 JP Morgan    949.62    981.00    $31.38
 12/24/98   14 3M          1030.00   1042.13    $12.13

                             Cash     $28.26
                            TOTAL   $4182.89