It's the Most Reflective Time of the Year

By Vince Hanks (TMFElwood)

NORTHVILLE, MICHIGAN (Dec. 23, 1999) -- Like a marathon runner weaving and stumbling down the stretch, 1999 is nearing the conclusion of its 365-day journey. The final representative of the '90s is looking for that last gulp of Gatorade from a supportive bystander as it musters up the strength to break that finish line tape, then collapse into the arms of history.

It's this time of year that I become most reflective. I look at my portfolio, its performance, my goals, the future, and I think. Now, I'll admit, I do this pretty much all year round. There's nothing especially significant about an artificial border represented by a change in the date. Still, some closure in a timeline can be good for the soul. Beginnings need endings. Just as I think extended trading hours are a bad idea -- but that's a horse of a different color.

I think about the course of my portfolio savings. Am I on track? What do I need to change, if anything? Is it possible to add just a little more each month? I think about my job, about possible travel plans, about the friends and family that I just do not see enough. Most importantly, though, I think about when they'll finally come out with Spam Lite.

Then, I think about the future. No, not who'll win the Stanley Cup this year, I mean the distant future. Retirement. Sounds often like a dream and a curse, rolled up into one. This is the time of year that I realize that I probably don't think about retirement enough. Oh, sure, you can say that's what I'm doing every day by socking away all the money I can spare into the best savings vehicle available to Fools, the stock market. As usual, you have a good point. Still, I have to wonder. Am I taking full advantage of the IRAs available to me? Am I maxing out my 401(k) possibilities? Should I consider an annuity? Heck, do I even truly know what an annuity is? All things considered, am I planning enough for retirement?

I'm in luck. I live in an age where information is as freely available as snow in Canada's Yukon territory. Ten years ago, where would I have turned with my queries? I wouldn't have. I didn't. There was no Internet in anything close to its present form. David and Tom Gardner were absolute strangers. I was much more an idiot than a Fool. (Hey, I was in college. Cut me some slack.) Point is, the answers are there for me now. I can even access them 24 hours a day, in a comfortable, forgiving environment. I can exchange thoughts and ideas with like-minded Fools and not so like-minded Fools. I can even follow a set of real-money portfolios, designed for various retirement scenarios.

I'll be spending a good deal of time in the new Fool Retirement area in the days and years to come. David Braze (TMF Pixy) and Dayana Yochim (TMF School) have done an outstanding job putting this simply superb feature together, and I'm going to take full advantage of it. This is my reflective time. I have things to ponder and answers to seek. Guidance is waiting for me.

How about you? Have you thought about and planned enough for retirement? What's stopping you? As my Father used to say to those ahead of us at a traffic light, "It's not gonna get any greener."

Portfolio Update: A buzzing in the cup that's connected by string to Fool HQ tells me that the December portfolio funds will be will be split $50/$50, going to Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC).

Drip on, Fools!

Drip Portfolio

12/23/99 Closing Numbers
Ticker Company Dly Pr Chg Price

  Day Week Month Year
To Date
Drip 1.76% 1.07% -1.78% 15.05% 30.85% 11.82%
S&P 500 1.56% 2.62% 4.99% 18.64% 55.34% 20.08%
S&P 500(DA) 1.56% 2.62% 4.99% 19.22% 57.97% 20.92%
S&P 500(DCA) n/a n/a n/a n/a 30.68% 11.76%
NASDAQ .82% 5.77% 18.98% 81.03% 152.90% 47.04%

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost/Share Price LT % Val Chg

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost Value LT $ Val Ch
  Cash: $24.36  
  Total: $4,233.32  

• S&P 500 (DA) = dividend adjusted. Dividends have been added to the total return of the index.

Drip Port launched with $500 on July 28, 1997, adds $100 to invest every month, and the goal is to own $150,000 in stock by August of the year 2017. Due to the slow nature of dollar-cost-averaging and our relatively significant starting costs, we do not expect to seriously challenge the S&P 500 for the first three to five years as we build an investment base. The long-term advantages of dollar-cost-averaging still overcome the short-term disadvantages, however. Final note: our investment in Campbell Soup is frozen due to fees instituted in its investment plan. Click here for a history of all Drip Port transactions.