What lunkhead said, "there's no such thing as a free lunch"? According to the Columbia World of Quotations, no one is exactly sure:
"An axiom from economics popular in the 1960s, the words have no known source, though have been dated to the 1840s, when they were used in saloons where snacks were offered to customers. Ascribed to an Italian immigrant outside Grand Central Station, New York, in Alistair Cooke's America (epilogue, 1973), the expression appears in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, ch. 11 (1966), but has become most closely associated with economist Milton Friedman, who made it the title of a book in 1975."
Fortunately, in my experience, there is such a thing as a free lunch. I've had free lunches, paid for by friends and courtesy of various employers. Once my new little garden starts yielding its offerings, I may also end up with free lunches from there. OK, they weren't exactly free -- someone paid for the meals in some way, either by treating me or by my buying seeds and plants. Still, if there's a big tomato to pluck or a slice of pizza available to grab, that sure seems like a free lunch.
People who eat are not the only ones who benefit from our world of occasional freebies. Those who invest can also take advantage of generous offers.
Freebies for investors
Without further ado, here are some freebies of which I'm aware. I know my modest list here isn't comprehensive, so I invite you to share other freebies with fellow readers on our discussion board. (Even if you don't have something to share, pop in and see what others have shared.)
- You've probably heard of superinvestor Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway
(NYSE:BRKa) (NYSE:BRKb). You may not realize, though, that he has been sharing a lot of business and investing wisdom with the general public for a long time -- for free. Click over to his company website and spend some time reading his annual letters to shareholders. He's funny and educational -- a winning combination.
- Other letters to shareholders and interviews with big investing brains can also be found, if you take some time to hunt them down. Whose should you seek? Well, try looking up the thoughts of managers of much respected mutual funds, for starters, perhaps via a Google search or on the fund families' websites. For example, consider Oakmark Funds' Bill Nygren, Longleaf Partners' Mason Hawkins, Legg Mason's
(NYSE:LM)Bill Miller, Tweedy Browne's Chris Browne, and Vanguard Group's John Bogle. There are many others. (We profile exceptional mutual funds in our Champion Funds newsletter and exceptional money managers there and in several of our other newsletters.) A few months ago I detailed the difference between letters from good funds and less illustrious ones. The latter are amusing, but the former can make you smarter or more secure.
- Your friend the Fool is a good source of free investing tips and guidance. Click into this page I created a while ago for our Teens & Their Money area -- it lists many educational articles in Fooldom and other resources, as well. It's not just for teens -- anyone can benefit by bookmarking it.
- Poke around elsewhere in our vast website, too, and you'll likely find all kinds of good stuff, such as a rich Personal Finance area, Retirement area, and a Fool's School. Want to learn how to invest via a broker or in mutual funds? Want to keep up with news and opinion stories? We can help! Reading our online articles is free. You only have to register once, painlessly, and that's free, too.
- Your good old public library is another wonderful resource if you're seeking free enlightenment. Scroll down this page and you'll reach a long section of recommended books. Don't forget our many Motley Fool books, too.
- Don't have tens of thousands of dollars for an MBA? Want to learn some accounting and financial analysis skills anyway? Take advantage of online tutorials on accounting and bookkeeping. Or visit the rich website of NYU's Stern School of Business professor Dr. Aswath Damodaran, which features entire manuscripts of his books, as well as a host of other educational fare. Or drop in on MIT's OpenCourseWare, which features free access to many courses' materials.
- On a less financial note, if you'd like to join a book club, visit The New York Times' Books Reading Group, which features links to discussions of many books, along with reviews and some authors' responses to reader questions.
- Then there are Motley Fool investing newsletters. We've got a slew of them, on value investing, income investing, small-caps, mutual funds, retirement planning, and more. (The stocks and funds they've recommended to readers have fared very well.) These newsletters are not free, but you can (and should) try them out for free. (Note that their cost is designed to be well worth it -- if just one stock pick really works out for you.) Take advantage of a free trial and you'll be able to see long lists of stocks and funds recommended by our analysts, and see how those picks have done. You'll also be able to check out the other perks that come with subscriptions. If that's not enough, we also offer some special research reports with some subscriptions, such as "Companies on the Road to Ruin" and "5 Value Investing Secrets." Check some of them out -- you have little to lose and a lot to gain.
- Don't forget blogs, which feature the thoughts of all kinds of interesting (and, yes, sometimes uninteresting) people. Try www.marginalrevolution.com for a good example of one well worth reading for a broad range of economic insights. Other financially illuminating blogs include www.janegalt.net and www.dynamist.com. To learn more about blogs, read "Blogs Booming?," "Blogging the Nightly News," and "Blog at Your Own Risk," which addresses the involvement in blogs of Google
(NASDAQ:GOOG)and Ask Jeeves (NASDAQ:ASKJ).
- Want to track your portfolio online, or create a watch list of stocks to monitor? Use the free portfolio feature in Fooldom. Click the "Set Up a Portfolio" link in the "Tools & Resources" nook in our Quotes and Data zone. That's where you can also do a lot of research on any stock, looking up its earnings reports filed with the SEC, its earnings estimates, its profile, charts, free annual reports, and more.
- And finally, if you're interested in possibly investing in a company, poke through its website, which is available for free. You'll usually find lots of info in its "Investor" area, but other links, like its news releases, can also be informative. On the main page of the website for Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation TiVo
(NASDAQ:TIVO), for example, I recently saw an announcement that the company passed the three million subscriber mark and is welcoming third-party developers. In the "about TiVo" area, the "Careers" section listed jobs available. Study lists like this and you might learn what strengths various firms are working to beef up.
There you have it -- enough free educational and profitable information to keep you busy for quite a while. Don't leave all this information on the table -- grab some freebies today, and a few tomorrow, too.
Share your own favorite freebies with fellow readers on our discussion board.
Here are some other Fool articles touching on freebies:
Selena Maranjian's favorite discussion boards include Book Club , The Eclectic Library , and Card & Board Games . She owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. For more about Selena, view her bio and her profile . You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written: The Motley Fool Money Guide and The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens . The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools .