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You Don't Really Care About Investing, but That's Cool

You may have clicked on this headline grumbling, "You don't know me, I love investing! I can run DCFs backward and forward and I've read Ben Graham's Security Analysis in three languages." If so, go somewhere else. Now. This article isn't for you.

Still here? OK, I'm glad we're alone. Let's have a little chat. Look, I know that you don't really care about investing. You may have diligently learned about P/Es, free cash flow, and leverage ratios, but it's like pulling teeth for you to sit down and actually do some research.

Sure, Jim Cramer and his frenetic TV show can make investing in all sorts of stocks seem not just easy, but quick and easy. I mean, come on, the "Lightning Round"? But still, you don't really care about any of it.

How do I know all of this? It's because I know what you care about and see what you read. As I write this, the most popular articles on the Web aren't about the Federal Reserve's "exit strategy," or the recent earnings beats from Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU  ) and Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) . Instead, they are about Jessica Simpson's love life, the untimely death of Capt. Phil Harris of The Deadliest Catch, and the crazy snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic.

In other words, there are an endless number of things you'd rather do than study stocks.

Eat your peas; they're good for you
Yet you keep plugging along because you know you have to. Retirement may be right around the corner or still years down the road, but you know that when the day comes, you want to be in a financial position to enjoy it.

But depending on how old you are, you may have little in the way of a pension to look forward to, if there's any pension at all. Making matters worse, you may be unsure whether Social Security will be there for you in your golden years. And, of course, you know that life can deliver unfortunate surprises.

So you keep investing.

Keep it up, you're doing great
The fact that you recognize how important it is to be investing and preparing for the future is really great. And the fact that you're reading articles like this to help improve your investing knowledge is likewise admirable.

But we still need to deal with marrying the importance of investing with your disinterest in actually doing hardcore investment research. Here are three potential solutions to your dilemma:

1. Let someone else take over. Many folks prefer to have someone else do their taxes for them. Not many people would dare take on legal challenges on their own. And I can count on one hand the number of people I know who do their own oil changes. So there's no shame in handing over your money to a professional and having him or her do the dirty work for you.

If you do, though, just be sure to do the up-front work to make sure you're hiring somebody worth hiring. Knowledge and experience are great, but also be sure that this is someone who will make time for you and heed your risk preferences; someone who doesn't have a side agenda to sell you certain products.

2. Make investing easier on yourself. Maybe you think you can do better than a professional manager, or maybe you simply can't find somebody that you trust. Either way, you prefer to continue plugging away. And that's not crazy at all. One of the core beliefs at The Motley Fool is that individuals can do a superb job managing their own investments.

However, if on any given night there is a laundry list of things you'd rather do than read a 10-K filing, and if that list includes performing anesthesia-free dental work on yourself, then you probably want to make sure that you're not making your investing more difficult than it has to be. While that young, fast-paced tech company may seem like an exciting place to put your money, its short track record, new technology, and unproven management team puts more onus on you to keep right on top of all the happenings at the company.

If you focus instead on diversification and investing in companies with proven businesses, long track records, and steady dividend payouts, you bear less risk when you untether yourself from the company's newsfeed. Here are examples of the kind of stocks I'm talking about:

Company

Market Cap

Forward Price-to-Earnings Ratio

Dividend Yield

ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  )

$309 billion

11.2

2.6%

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  )

$144 billion

8.2

4.0%

Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT  )

$43 billion

14.1

4.0%

General Mills (NYSE: GIS  )

$23 billion

14.7

2.8%

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK  )

$21 billion

13.0

5.9%

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Or you could even go one step easier and put all of your money into a collection of index funds -- a strategy endorsed by finance all-stars like Burton Malkiel, Jack Bogle, and Warren Buffett.

3. Find a good middle ground. Maybe you'd like to be the decision-maker and action-taker when it comes to your portfolio, but want some help and guidance at the same time. If that's the case, you may want to check out the Rule Your Retirement newsletter with a 30-day free trial. Robert Brokamp and the team at Rule Your Retirement focus on helping investors of all walks easily get on the right track when it comes to saving, investing, and planning for retirement.

Sure, the newsletter issues may not be as exciting as reading about the reactions to Ellen's debut on American Idol, but they'll make you a better investor and help you get your portfolio situated so that you can spend more time doing what you really want to do, and less time wondering whether your money will be there for you when you need it.

Simply click here if you'd like some help getting started.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. Walt Disney and Pfizer are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Baidu is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Walt Disney is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Duke Energy is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool's disclosure policy has never once been caught with its pants down. Of course, it doesn't actually wear pants ...


Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (18)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 13, 2010, at 5:01 PM, AcidWashCash wrote:

    Most of the investment community is either open-mouthed in shock or strident in blame about the somethings or someones who must be responsible for such horrific performance. Never again they swear to their clients--- without ever a hint that they might themselves be the problem.

    It won't be long before the Wizards of Wall Street announce that they have studied the situation, and readied their sales minions to switch the shattered investment public into yet another fail proof (fool-magnet?) portfolio of hedges, gimmicks, signal responders, and panaceas for whatever the new decade brings.

    Once again they will attempt to debug the market cycle and create an upward only future for the masses. Try not to be abused again--- the markets aren't broken, just the market shakers. Your portfolio should be up in market value--- and not by just a little for the "dismal decade".

    These are the same geniuses that created the dotcom bubble by cramming valueless securities and speculative IPOs down your throats. They are the same charlatans who created the derivative markets and fraudulently hid their gaming devices in innocent looking rolls of tissue paper.

    ------------------------

    www.intelligentinvestingtips.com

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Matt Koppenheffer
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Matt is the banking and financial services Bureau Chief at The Motley Fool and co-host of "Where the Money Is."

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