Feeling a bit off kilter? Maybe you're thrown off balance by the weight of extra cash in your wallet -- $2,870.07 in newfound dollars, if you've been following our Fiscal Fitness daily money-saving tips all January.
Pat yourself on the back, even if you've only saved a small fraction of that total. You're way ahead of the curve -- as we've seen, most people are only now learning the art of saving a buck or two.
Now it's time to fulfill the final part of our 1 Month, 2 Grand, 3 Stocks event: Let's make that money you saved multiply for your future.
1 month, 2 grand, here's your 3 stock picks
Despite the recent turmoil, we still believe that the stock market is the best place to build wealth over the long term.
The timing couldn't be better for those with the cash on hand to invest while stocks wallow near their historic lows. (Aren't you glad you saved all that money this month?) We've singled out three stocks worthy of your newfound investing dollars.
Costco (Nasdaq: COST )
Our first investment idea has been plucked from Motley Fool Inside Value's "Best Buys Now" list. This discount retailer is exemplary in every way we think is important: It has a straightforward business model, it's well run, it has an awesome brand and management team, and it has a strong balance sheet (a rarity among retailers these days). It's found a way to compete successfully with Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) . Alyce Lomax runs down the essentials of this business, which we believe is an ideal stock for beginning investors who want a company to have and to hold for the long run.
Paychex (Nasdaq: PAYX )
The second company on our list has been the dictionary definition of "stability." Take a gander at this line from its 2008 annual report (fiscal year end May 31): "Fiscal 2008 was our eighteenth consecutive year of record total revenue, net income, and diluted earnings per share." Yup, it brings tears to our eyes, too, given the tumultuous times we're in. This company's right for anyone who's tired of the messes at companies like AIG (NYSE: AIG ) and General Motors (NYSE: GM ) and just wants to dial-down risk and earn steady, stable, long-term returns. Morgan Housel spells out five reasons why he thinks this company deserves a place in your portfolio, and why two of our services -- Motley Fool Inside Value and Motley Fool Income Investor -- have it on their "Buy Now" and "Buy First" lists, respectively.
National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV )
For our third and final pick for Fiscal Fitness graduates, we find a company that we've long admired -- and that has been beaten up pretty badly by the fall in oil prices. Yet, while the energy sector has taken a hit from ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) on down, low share prices also spell opportunity. Toby Shute provides the investment thesis for this final pick, which is one of Tom Gardner's current favorite recommendations for our Motley Fool Stock Advisor service. For more adventurous types seeking to juice portfolio returns, this is a chance to invest in a strong company at an attractive valuation. The recommendation comes with a clear warning label: As he points out, this is a cyclical business that's most appropriate as a small position in an already-established portfolio.
We hope you've learned a few savings tricks these past four weeks, and we thank you for your participation -- particularly those who chimed in on the our Fiscal Fitness '09 discussion board.