Fribble Monday, January 3, 2000

It's Easy, Just Click!

By hersch@sbshlaw.com

Many of you have seen the television advertisement for a discount online brokerage firm where a young man nervously paces about the room, and at various times comes close to clicking his mouse to consummate what appears to be his first trade. Finally, his nervous finger depresses the mouse button, and his screen announces "trade confirmed." His face exudes an expression of relief.

Such was my reaction when I dumped all of the mutual funds held in my (and my wife's) IRA this past February to embark on Foolish investing. "Do you know what you are doing?" my spouse inquired skeptically. Sure, I thought. I had read Rule Makers/Rule Breakers. I subscribed to the Foolish 8. I'd read online about the Foolish 4. I was going to confidently invest using these strategies, as they seemed so simple.

But, ah, the realities of clicking that mouse button to make the trade. Suddenly I understood this trepidation. This was real money we're talking about here. Our retirement. Wasn't it best to let the money sit in those mutual funds after all? Should I invest in these "Internet firms" that were "grossly overvalued"? Was Barron's right about Amazon? (My Amazon stock is now among my leaders, by the way.) What should I know from these things? Would I be bagging groceries one day in my old age, snarling, "Damn that Motley Fool!"

Well, we are only 10 months into the experiment, and my portfolio is up over 50%. According to the "My Portfolio" section of this Web site, if I had retained the money in the index 500 fund, I would have been up only 9%. At one time my portfolio had rocketed up 30%, only to find itself close to even a few months later. I didn't panic. I held on. (I also didn't tell my wife.) Now I proudly point to the screen and announce, "I'm better than those talking heads on CNBC!"

Soon my retirement contributions for 1999 will be deposited into my accounts. Although I will carefully think about the investments, I am now more like the middle-aged man in the other discount online brokerage commercial who calls "Stuart" into his office to make his first, confident trades (he's buying Kmart; what's up with that?). Thank you, Motley Fool.