Wednesday, May 8, 1996
It's Like The TV Guide Crossword
by MF Selena
My dad is the King of Crosswords. He has to complete each one he sees. He seeks them out in newspapers and magazines in our house, in friends' homes, and even in waiting rooms. He knows the three-letter word for a morsel left at a meal (ort), and who the "unready king of England" was (Ethelred II).
Scores of years of practice have perfected his skills so that most crossword puzzles no longer challenge him. He has had to devise new techniques to make them more interesting. He only does them in ink now, so that he can't erase. And most recently, he has begun to only use the "Across" clues, not referring to any "Down" clues for help. So. Now that I have demonstrated his amazing prowess in the field of Crosswordology, can you guess which crossword puzzle is among the most challenging to him? Clue: Check the title of this Fribble.
That's right. Although he sees no reason for TV Guide magazine to exist, since a TV Guide comes with every Sunday paper, he likes its crossword puzzle. Why? Because to him, it's kind of hard. Clues like, "Youngest daughter on 'Empty Nest'" and "She's the Nanny" and "Kathie Lee's co-host" mean nothing to him. He can rack his brain all he wants, and the names Kristy McNichol, Fran Drescher and Regis Philbin will never occur to him. But that's just him. He's clearly different. (What *does* he watch on TV? Sports. And nature documentaries. And musicals. And "Married with Children". Go figure.)
To most of us, these TV Guide crossword clues are not difficult. We're not thrown by references to "Twin Peaks" or "Grace Under Fire." And really, those are the *hard* clues. Each puzzle is chock full of toughies like:
-- "Auditory organ" (3 letters)
-- "Much ___ About Nothing"
-- National Parks Association (abbreviation, 3 letters)
-- "The Catcher in the ___"
-- "The Sun ____ Rises"
-- "The Streets of ___ Francisco"
(Note: All TV Guide crossword clues mentioned in this Fribble are authentic---they come from the 4/27/96 and 5/4/96 issues.)
So why have I gone on and on about crosswords when this Fribble should really have something to do with investing? Because there's a parallel here. Most people seem to be intimidated by the idea of investing. They see it as cryptic and mysterious and difficult as the New York Times Sunday Crossword. So they pay others to manage their money.
But Fools have learned that investing is really only as hard as the TV Guide crossword. Most of us can do this puzzle very quickly, racing through clues like "Day of Atonement: ___ Kippur", "East of ____", "Child's snow vehicle" (4 letters), and "Rowing implement" (3 letters). We can probably do the whole thing in ten minutes. And that's just as long as it takes to figure out which Dow Dividend Approach stocks you should buy.
In fact, beating the market and besting most mutual fund managers handily takes even *less* time than the TV Guide crossword puzzle. Why? Because each week there's a new crossword. That means ten minutes a week--- 520 minutes a year---over eight and a half hours! With the Dow Dividend Approach, you spend well under half an hour a year (I'm including the call to your broker here, and your time waiting on hold), and you recoup roughly 20% per year. And it isn't hard!
So let the masses look at the Sunday Times puzzle and shudder. Let them pay big bucks to financial professionals who are not likely to give them a 20% return. We Fools know what we're doing. And so does my dad. When the Fool portfolio bought Sears, General Electric and Chevron this past August, my parents did, too. They're up some 35% so far, with three months to go. And another benefit?
Such Foolish investing frees up my dad's time for more crosswords.