It started last year when I saw an ad on the side of a bus. Logged in, registered (with my real name!), and promptly got lost. With a clickclick here and a clickclick there, E-I-E-I-O. Built a mock portfolio, watched it zoom. Had a stock split and didn't know how to adjust for it, so I deleted it.
Then I started reading articles. "So this is how it works," I thought. Cruised over to the Discount Brokers board and watched it for four months. Sent away for some broker information packets and remembered to ask for a sample yearly report. Got four packets back, but no reports. Waded through the slick Velcroed folders and threw away everything that could be construed as propaganda, and what was I left with? Four application forms.
I remained undaunted. I finally settled on a broker, with four months of research backing me up. I was ready. By now I had started subscribing to the Fool's daily e-mail service and had been diligently reading up on earnings, annual reports, and meaningless stock splits for months, and having a great time doing it! So I put in my orders.
I've always invested Wisely, as it turns out. I took a look at my mutual fund statements for the last few years and I couldn't believe it. The market's going great guns and I'm making a pittance! But you know what? I'm a Fool now. I know I'm not ready to take big steps yet, but I will be soon.
It's Fools like you, who contribute, who help Fools like me. And you don't even know it! Thanks to you, I'm taking charge. Not just me, either. My fiancee wants to start an IRA. She sees how much fun I'm having and all of a sudden she wants to watch the market reports on the news, and she's shocked when I predict what they're going to say. (Which, more often than not, boils down to "The market may go down tomorrow. Or it may go up. We don't know. Tune in tomorrow for the latest!") We're Foolish together. We watched a wild-eyed guy once, who looked like he was hyped up on coffee and ready to cough up an organ, discuss how much money he'd made that week and said to each other, "I'm glad that's not us."
It's Fools like you who helped me quit smoking. And you didn't even know it! Of course, it's killing me. But now I have a new habit. Whenever I feel the Urge I go look at My Portfolio to see if I have the smiley face or the frowny face in the summary. For a while it was the frowny face, but now that frown's turned upside-down. And, very slowly, I'm creeping up on the market. Like the tortoise.
I'm not a total Fool yet. I know that stock splits don't mean anything, but you know what? They're still cool! I know that my portfolio can jump a hundred bucks in a day and then fall flat for a week, but that jump's still fun to watch. I tried wading through a 10-K and gave up after a couple of hours, but I'll try again. I still have to call the guy who "manages" my securities account and tell him I want out, but I can't until I figure out what the better option is. I still have some stock research to do, but what's another month when I'll be holding for years?
So thanks, Fools. Thanks for being there, for helping all of us who hide in the background. You may not know it, but collectively you're super-helpful. I look forward to being helpful, too.