I sat on my bed, my chin resting glumly in the palm of my right hand. What an idiot, I thought, as I looked over the latest numbers in my daughter's ShareBuilder account. Since I opened the account less than two years ago, the total value of her investments has increased almost 60%.
So why so glum?
Because in terms of actual dollars, the jump is not exactly life-changing. I didn't invest enough.
Thanks to The Motley Fool newsletter services, I've been able to find a nice group of stocks that have performed extremely well for my 2-year-old daughter. Here's what's in her portfolio: Quality Systems
Quality Systems, which offers software and services for doctors and dentists to upgrade and manage their recordkeeping, was a Stock Advisor recommendation that made a lot of sense to me. It's the 21st century. It's time for the medical profession to stop relying on the indecipherable scribblings of doctors. But I just dipped a toe in. My paltry $300 investment has ballooned into $974.
Vertex, a biotechnology company that is just starting to show its clinical potential, was a recommendation in Rule Breakers. My $500 investment now has a market value of $1,409.
Intuitive is another Rule Breakers special. The company that makes surgical robots has been similarly huge for me, turning a $500 purchase into $1,062.
Shanda has been the black sheep. Also from Rule Breakers, it's turned $500 into $156. Maybe all those millions of Chinese people aren't quite ready to invest in this new technology, but they will in time.
And the index fund has grown from $1,700 to $1,950.
Now I'm not turning up my nose on a $2,000 combined gain. And I'm confident the money will continue to grow. But if I'm getting in fairly early on some great companies that have quickly doubled, tripled, or better, shouldn't Leah's college education already be paid for?
So I'm resolving to invest more. Granted, I don't have piles of money lying around the house waiting to be put to use. Journalism is not the most lucrative field -- I've actually had friends leave the profession so they could make real money ... as teachers.
And no, I'm not going to put my retirement account on the line. But I have money that isn't working very hard for me. In addition to my primary checking account, I have an interest-bearing checking account that earned me a whopping $0.26 last month and a money market account that might double in value in about 470 years.
Have you suffered from the same problem -- good returns without the money to show for it? Consider taking some steps to solve this problem. Put in some more time to do the research. If you don't trust your conclusions, you could start an investment club. With more folks weighing in, maybe you'll trust your research more. As John D. Spooner wrote in his book Do You Want to Make Money or Would You Rather Fool Around?, "Good amateurs often find the right investments but lack sufficient courage to invest a sufficient amount to make much difference to their returns."
But if you're having trouble getting good ideas in the first place, consider a free trial to Motley Fool Rule Breakers. Two new ideas come your way each month, complete with write-ups, counterpoints, and updates on past companies.
As for me, the next time I'm thumbing through Rule Breakers and I come across a stock write-up that leaves me saying, "Hmmm, that makes a lot of sense," I'm going to put my lazy dollars to work. If I'm getting great returns on the stocks that David Gardner and his team are recommending in Rule Breakers, I might as well make some serious money off them.
This article was originally published on Jan. 9, 2006. It has been updated.
Roger Friedman is the managing editor of newsletters and the author of Nipple Confusion, Uncoordinated Pooping and Spittle: The Life of a Newborn's Father . Roger does not own shares of any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a full disclosure policy.