The Land of Should
And a soaring @Home

by Barbara Eisner Bayer (TMFVenus@aol.com)

WOODSTOCK, NY (December 10, 1998) -- Do you ever feel you live in the United States of Should? Where almost every sentence carries that obligation? Where should I go on vacation? I should've bought IBM when it was at 80! Should I buy Furby now or wait until trash cans are inundated with him?

Even before you were born, people were impressing their "shoulds" on your innocently developing life. Your mom was told she'd better not drink or smoke, breathe deeply and PUSH. And while things should've gotten better once you arrived, they didn't. As children, you were told you shouldn't talk during class, you shouldn't talk to strangers, you should eat your spinach. It's no different for adults -- you should floss every day, eat a diet low in saturated fat, and never procrastinate. So many shoulds... so little time.

Where do we store the stress of all these shoulds? On our should-ers of course! Sometimes the weight of these shoulds feels as heavy as the load of poor ole Atlas, who perhaps should've taken a break once in a while.

After a childhood and adolescence spent under the influence of other peoples' shoulds, you enter adulthood prepared to... well, follow other peoples' shoulds. Now that you are legally responsible for your own decisions, you discover that your freewill muscle has never developed. Should you strengthen it in personal choice aerobics classes?

Now you're grown up. What kind of car should you buy, what neighborhood should you live in, should you have vanilla, chocolate, or Cherry Garcia? It's no wonder people are constantly looking to others to tell them what to do.

Don't believe me? Try searching for "should" on the Web. You'll be directed to sites where you'll be told if you "should let your daughter pursue gymnastics" or "why Tallahassee should be famous" or "how China should prepare for World War IV." (World War IV? Should I learn survival skills and move into a cottage in Montana?)

It's no different in the investment world. Every day you can tune into CNBC and watch an investment professional from a company you've never heard of tell you whether you should "buy, sell or hold" a particular stock. Then the TV pundits advise that you shouldn't buy Internet stocks because they are over-priced (only to watch the stock double in price in the next 6 months, while you kick yourself because you know you should've bought it.)

"Should" so deeply pervades our lives, we no longer hear it for what it is -- another person's opinion. Truth is, there are no shoulds. Telling someone what s/he should do negates the great American doctrine of freedom of choice and of life, liberty, and the pursuit of a ten-bagger. People give advice based on their own agendas, which often have nothing to do with the best interests of the person they are advising. If you always do what others think you should, you lose your personal identity; you become no better than the body-snatched pod people.

Every day in Fooldom, we get posts and letters from investors, new AND experienced, asking us what they should do with their money. Index funds, Foolish Four, Cash-Kings, Rule Breakers, DRIP plans, when should they sell, when should they buy, which broker should they use -- there are more choices than dishes on a diner menu. Which is why it's imperative that investors learn about the different choices for investing their money and make decisions for themselves. Nobody knows you as well as you do. Nobody knows your income, age, or financial profile (okay... maybe TRW does). Once you figure in retirement goals, risk tolerance, time considerations -- all the things you must consider when making investment decisions -- nobody knows you better than you. Not counting, of course, your therapist. And the "shoulds" that work for you, might be totally wrong for someone else.

There is only one Foolish should -- do your own research in order to make your own investment decisions that support your investing goals and personal lifestyle.

If you are a novice investor, the best place you might choose to begin is our "Thirteen Steps to Investing Foolishly." You won't be told what you should do; you won't need to, since you'll be learning the techniques available for building your own Foolish Portfolio. And don't forget our invaluable Foolish FAQ area, where you can easily find answers to many of your Foolish questions -- some even before you ask them. And if you are still confused, you might want to stop by our Ask A Foolish Question message board, where other Fools will contribute their opinions or point you in the right direction.

Today, the Rule Breaker portfolio outperformed the general market indices, losing only -1.16% to the S&P's -1.56% and the Nasdaq's -1.68. @Home, our newest member, soared +5 1/16 points on no news other than an analyst initiating coverage; the stock is now up 21.59% since our purchase on December 4th. Not bad for a week's work.

So, Fool, as the New Year approaches, don't worry too much if old acquaintance should be forgot or not... that decision is totally up to you.

Fool on!


Order your copy of David and Tom Gardner's new book, Rule Breakers, Rule Makers, in advance. This Simon & Schuster beauty doesn't arrive until January, but you can reserve your copy today! The first half of the epic book, on Rule Breakers, elucidates the Fool Port's investment style; the second half, on Rule Makers, further explains Cash-King investing.

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12/10/98 Close

Stock Change Bid ---------------- AMZN -3 1/8 213.13 AOL -2 13/16 89.94 T + 1/16 71.06 ATHM +5 1/16 68.19 DJT - 1/8 4.06 DD -1 1/4 52.94 XON - 3/16 73.75 IP -1 1/8 41.38 IOM - 3/8 6.75 LU -2 3/16 97.25 SBUX -2 13/16 48.19 TDFX + 3/4 16.19
Day Month Year History Annualized FOOL -1.16% 6.21% 119.90% 637.98% 58.36% S&P: -1.56% 0.12% 20.05% 154.15% 23.93% NASDAQ: -1.68% 3.41% 28.38% 179.92% 26.71% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 8/5/94 1100 AmOnline 1.82 89.94 4847.87% 9/9/97 440 Amazon.com 19.74 213.13 979.78% 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 1.28 6.75 427.18% 10/1/96 84 LucentTech 23.81 97.25 308.47% 8/12/96 130 AT&T 39.58 71.06 79.55% 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* 8.47 4.06 52.03% 12/4/98 450@Home Corp. 56.08 68.19 21.59% 2/20/98 200 Exxon 64.09 73.75 15.07% 2/20/98 215 DuPont 59.83 52.94 -11.53% 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 47.69 41.38 -13.24% 7/2/98 235 Starbucks 55.91 48.19 -13.81% 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 25.67 16.19 -36.93% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 8/5/94 1100 AmOnline 1999.47 98931.25 $96931.78 9/9/97 440 Amazon.com 8684.60 93775.00 $85090.40 5/17/95 1960 Iomega Cor 2509.60 13230.00 $10720.40 10/1/96 84 LucentTech 1999.88 8169.00 $6169.12 12/4/98 450@Home Corp. 25236.13 30684.38 $5448.25 4/30/97 -1170*Trump* -9908.50 -4753.13 $5155.38 8/12/96 130 AT&T 5145.11 9238.13 $4093.02 2/20/98 200 Exxon 12818.00 14750.00 $1932.00 2/20/98 215 DuPont 12864.25 11381.56 -$1482.69 2/20/98 270 Int'l Pape 12876.75 11171.25 -$1705.50 7/2/98 235 Starbucks 13138.63 11324.06 -$1814.56 1/8/98 425 3Dfx 10908.63 6879.69 -$4028.94 CASH $64208.05 TOTAL $368989.24


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