<THE HARRY JONES PORTFOLIO>

Responsibility

by Harry Jones

(June 17, 1999) -- Irv and I hired a stable hand and all-around helper for the summer just a few days after high school got out. The boy is about seventeen-years-old -- a clean-cut looking boy, who agreed to be at the farm five days a week at 5:30 a.m. I offered him breakfast every morning with me if he was willing to be here by 4:50 a.m., but he passed on that offer.

As it turns out, he has passed on the entire deal. On day three, the boy never showed up again. I was left standing by the stable with three horses waiting for him to come waddling over the rise in the dirt road like he did the two days before, looking all sleepy but healthy and young -- young enough that waking up early in the morning truly wasn't difficult, just an inconvenience. Well, he never came waddling.

Irv was out watering crops before the sun rose because watering when it is very sunny is not the best thing for many crops -- the water makes them open up from a "closed against the hot sun" position -- and while he watered and while I waited for the boy by the stable the boy never arrived.

I scratched my head and talked to the horses. "He seemed like a smart boy."

It's about responsibility. When you agree that you're going to do something, you do it, no matter what happens. If you absolutely can't do it, you cover yourself. You explain your reasons and then move on. You don't drop something that you agreed to do and never show up.

I don't know the boy's parents, but Irv knows his mother and he said she's a sweet woman. I'm sure she is. But her boy still has some growing up to do. Being able to keep long-term commitments is the surest sign of maturity.

Who Can Use Index Funds?

by Jeff Fischer (TMFJeff)

Thanks to S&P Depositary Receipts (AMEX: SPY), anyone from a penny-poor sailor to a gold-mining billionaire can easily begin to invest in index funds and thereby beat 80% of professional money mangers.

Most index mutual funds (including the brand leader, Vanguard -- and brand leader is what it is, as well as the size leader, both because it was the first mover) have minimum balances to start, typically ranging from $1,000 to $3,000. But you can begin to buy SPYs for the cost of one share and a discount brokerage fee. All you need is a discount broker.

Many discount brokers have minimum starting balances as well -- typically they range from $1,000 to $5,000 -- but some do not. From the Fool's Discount Brokerage Center, a few brokers without minimum starting balances are BCL, Siebert, and SureTrade. Click the link for more information. All of the other brokers listed have minimum starting balances ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, with $2,000 being most common.

So once your credit card debt is paid, after you've read the 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly, and when you're comfortable beginning to invest, there is no reason that you can't start via a very low-cost option. If you're interested in index funds, you can begin by buying shares of SPY through a discount broker (we recommend that your commission be at most 2% of the value of any trade, so keep that in mind as you buy a few shares). You could also begin direct investment plans for under $100, as explained in the Drip Port.

Everyone should invest in stocks. One of the goals of The Motley Fool is to ensure that everyone who can and should be investing, does so. Please help your fellow non-Fools -- as yet -- to invest, too. Send this unimposing column to a friend or family member who hasn't begun to invest yet and could. Please click below to send it.

Fool on!

  Related Links:

 Recent Harry Jones Portfolio Headlines
  08/26/99  Is it a Nifty 500? Part II
  08/19/99  Is it a Nifty 500? Part I
  08/12/99  Illuminating Index Funds, Part Two
  08/05/99  Illuminating Index Funds
  07/29/99  The Foolishness of Index Funds
Harry Jones Portfolio Archives »  

06/17/99 Close

Stock Change Close SPY +1 1/4 134.56
Day Month Year History HARRY +0.94% 2.87% 5.44% 5.44% S&P: +0.71% 2.93% 9.59% 9.59% NASDAQ: +1.05% 2.98% 16.03% 16.03% Rec'd # Security In At Now Change 1/4/99 16 S&P Depos 127.63 134.56 5.44% Rec'd # Security In At Value Change 1/4/99 16 S&P Depos 2042.00 2153.00 $111.00 CASH $0.00 TOTAL $2153.00 Yesterday Today Change S&P Depos 133.31 134.56 SPY +1 1/4

</THE HARRY JONES PORTFOLIO>

FoolWatch -- It's what's going on at the Fool today.

Are you a Foolish investor?
The Motley Fool Recommends...
Industry Snapshot
New format! A stock idea, industry overview, top players, and financials -- every two weeks! Get more info or order.

Foolish Eight Stock Screen
Here at Last! Foolish Eight Stock Screen. Get more info or order.

Other Fool Products...
Subscriptions
Primers
Reports
Investing Tools
Books
Fool Gear

Shop FoolMart!