This is part of a series of profiles highlighting women investors in the Fool community. Find out what makes the fairer sex better at picking stocks at fool.com/girl.
Native Texan and educational research consultant Joan Bush calls investing "my closet hobby." While she's has never met another woman who shares her passion, she does have one unusual partner in crime, her 16-year-old son, Aaron.
Because Joan (wealthdivawannab on the boards) didn't get started investing until her 40s, she decided to give Aaron and his 12-year-old brother a much earlier start, introducing them to investing when Aaron was just 10. Now 16, Aaron (aka awesomestockdude) is a serious investor in his own right, and an active participant at Motley Fool Stock Advisor.
Read on to learn more about Joan, her investing style, and which stocks she's buying now.
How did you first become aware of investing?
My dad invested, but didn't really explain what he was doing. After my sister and I were both married, my dad had a small family investment club to teach us and our spouses a little about it; that was when I was in my late 20s. But it wasn't until quite a few years later when I bought The Motley Fool Investment Guide that I really got it. I got inspired, read more Motley Fool books, went to Fool.com, and finally got serious about it. I was in my 40s when I bought my first stock.
What was your first stock investment? How did it turn out?
I bought four boring blue-chip dividend payers: Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, and Microsoft. I sold Wal-Mart eventually for a small profit, but I still own the others. I've added to them over time and reinvested dividends. They won't make me rich, but it gives me hope that I could live off them in the future.
How would you describe your investment approach?
I have two mantras in investing. First, keep it simple and fun! I'm too busy for complicated tax issues, so I avoid things like MLPs [master limited partnerships] even when they seem promising, and I only trade options in my retirement account, not a taxable account.
Second, keep learning a little at a time. Even when I'm extremely busy, I make time to read, even if it's only 10-15 minutes at a time. I always keep an investing book in my car or on my Kindle.
My approach continues to evolve and always will. I've traded options for about a year now to add a little more income and branched out into international stocks as well as mid-cap and small-cap companies. As I look back, I realize how much progress I've made.
What has been your biggest investment success?
By far, my greatest investing success has been getting my sons started investing early in life. In terms of stocks, Netflix has been a 3-, 7-, and 12-bagger from different buying points, but I sold off about 75% of my holding a few months ago. When you have a 10- or 12-bagger, you have a lot in there, so I decided to redistribute. Being brave during the 2008-09 downturn was another big success. I had just read Roger Lowenstein's book on Warren Buffett, and it was so helpful on temperament. I'm really pleased that I braved it out and stayed calm. I only wish I had bought more!
How about your biggest investment failure?
2008 was very eye-opening. I had too many bank stocks, and I learned the hard way how different the financial stocks were. Citigroup really bombed and is by far my worst stock investment. I really had no idea how risky bank stocks could be, much less the "sleaze factor" within some of these financial entities. Live and learn.
In our new book, Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl, we make the case that women are better suited temperamentally to be great investors -- they are generally more patient, take less risk, stay calmer in turbulent markets, do more research, and hold for the long term. Do you think you invest like a girl?
Definitely when it comes to taking less risk and not trading a lot, yes. I'm not risk averse, but I don't jump for the fences, either. I want companies that will do well over time, but I don't feel like I have to choose a risky stock to do that. I sleep better at night knowing I have a good base. I really like what I am learning with Motley Fool Pro -- it offers a good risk/reward balance.
As I mentioned, I read a lot, and I have rules of thumb -- things I'm looking for. Over the last two or three years, I've really hung on to stocks unless something major changes, or my position is really overweight like with Netflix. For example, NVIDIA has run up and down for years -- one of my early purchases was my first double-bagger, almost a triple. I rode it all the way down to negative and back up to a double. It's been a wild, wild ride, but I still believe in the company, so I don't really worry about it.
Finally, what stocks are you buying or watching now?
I recently bought a small position in Techne
Want to learn more about how to invest like a girl? Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl is available now. Order your copy today!
Robyn Gearey does not own shares in any company mentioned here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, and 3-D Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Techne, Procter & Gamble, Nike, NVIDIA, Wal-Mart, Netflix, and Johnson & Johnson; creating diagonal call positions on Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, and Microsoft; buying puts on Netflix; and writing puts on NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.