The heart of winter brings a chill to everyone. Outside, the wind blows and the snow falls, and all you can think about is spring.
Your finances and investments aren't much different. Lately, the markets seem to have endured nothing but bad news. Like most people, you've seen your account balances drop considerably since last summer. The lingering worries about recession and ongoing problems with credit markets make you want to hide in a cave and hibernate until it's over.
But that's not the right thing to do. A Wall Street deep freeze can be the best time to take action. For instance, many investors saw the recent drops in financial stocks like E*Trade Financial (Nasdaq: ETFC ) and Ambac Financial (NYSE: ABK ) as the beginning of a death spiral. But that hasn't stopped others from bucking the trend and buying at recent lows.
Neither company is a sure thing, of course, and there could be further trouble ahead. Still, E*Trade has doubled from its recent lows, and Ambac is up more than 80%. That should be enough to spark your curiosity about other companies that have gotten Wall Street's cold shoulder.
Get fired up!
But even with that incentive, we know that winter's a hard time to stay motivated. If you've already fallen off the New Year's resolution wagon for 2008, you're not alone. (Believe me.) But don't give up yet!
That's why we're making this month Fired-Up February at the Fool. Every day, we'll bring you hard-hitting commentaries, hot off the online presses, to help you tackle every aspect of your investments and finances. From red-hot stock recommendations to saving money on that Caribbean vacation you've been dreaming about, we'll make sure you have the information and inspiration you need to improve your financial life.
There'll be plenty of ways you can participate, too. On our community investing service, Motley Fool CAPS, you'll be able to weigh in with your opinions about the companies that warm the cockles of your heart -- or send a shiver down your spine. Our discussion boards will let you share your stories with other like-minded folks, and hopefully learn something in the process. And if you decide to fire up your investments by taking a look at one of the Fool's newsletter services, you can count on a warm welcome.
Lighting the fire
For you, it all starts with your dreams. What do you want your financial future to look like? As we saw last month, if you want, you can be a millionaire -- as long as you have the drive and determination to do what it takes to get there.
If you want to find good investments, the iron is hot. All sorts of high-quality companies have seen their share prices slashed, even though they have virtually no exposure to the problems plaguing some sectors of the economy. Shares of pharmaceutical giant Merck (NYSE: MRK ) have fallen 25% since mid-December. Longtime tech favorite Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) has suffered a more-than-30% drop over the last three months. And the previous darlings of the market -- materials and energy -- have felt the pinch, with stocks like Southern Copper (NYSE: PCU ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) correcting violently in recent months. Unless you think the world is ending, you'll be able to find bargains wherever you look.
But don't stop with the markets. You probably have other dreams beyond investing. Maybe you've been wanting to renovate your home or buy a new car, but you just haven't had the time. Or perhaps you've been concerned with how fast your money seems to disappear, and you want to get more control over your cash flow. We'll talk about a number of the most common financial goals, and help you learn what you need to know to get excited about changing your life.
And if you're not sure exactly what you want to change with your finances, don't worry -- as you read about the goals that others have, something's sure to ring true with you. You ready? Let's get fired up!