July 02, 1998

Declare Your Financial Independence

"When in the course of Foolish events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bonds and funds that have held its portfolio back, and to shift instead to stocks, then can that people be pronounced ready to embark upon its own path to Foolish Financial Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Fools are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and Market-beating Returns, such as will be found in the Fool Portfolio."

And so we seize this bright occasion to remind you of the beacons (bombs bursting in air!) that we've sent up, to guide you on your path. Let us, in all humility, remark that just as there were thirteen colonies, from which sprang this great nation, so there are The 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly. Coincidence? We think not!

As you decide to secede from the ways of the Wise, you might take inspiration from the Boston Tea Party. Throw out those underperforming mutual funds! Declare war upon those over-charging full-service brokers, the modern-day equivalents of the King, who "plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed our people." (OK, so we exaggerate, but we're filled with patriotic fervor and we can't help ourselves.)

What foresight had our founding fathers! In so many ways can we learn from them! Shall we not, Fools, develop foresight of our own? Shall we not look forward to a peaceful and tranquil retirement? Of course we shall -- nay, we must! And thus have we created a retirement collection just for you. Discover the common sense ways to put away enough money to avoid Thomas Jefferson's sad state of financial desperation upon his death.

It makes one reflect on the vicissitudes of life -- does it not? -- that one of the greatest Renaissance men ever should have died $100,000 in debt, so that his family later had to put his home, his Monticello, up for sale. Let not such a fate befall you, Fool; let you instead resolve to have the wherewithal to shoot for the stars, and to hit them, such as Thomas Jefferson did. (Of course, if you do decide to sell your home, our home section will help you get a better price.) And though you may not end up designing a modern-day University of Virginia, with its serpentine walls and magnificent rotunda, you may want your children to go to college.

On July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day after the signing of the Declaration, John Adams whispered his last words, upon his deathbed: "Thomas Jefferson survives." But Jefferson had died at his home in Monticello just a few hours earlier. Messengers traveling north from Virginia with the news of the one death met up with those traveling Down from Massachusetts with the news of the other.

And where did they meet? In Fooladelphia -- at the Liberty Bell.

Is this twist of the story true, or apocryphool? We know not. We do know that, had the respective messengers had a better set of wheels, as they would have if they'd had access to our How to Buy a Car section, they'd have moved a lot faster. Of course, if they'd both gone equally faster, then they'd still have met at the Liberty Bell. Which just goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or something like that.

This weekend, enjoy Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

--David Wolpe (TMF Dbunk)

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