Sunday, April 13, 2014

How did I start buying stocks?

I've always been interested in stocks.  When I worked for Disneyland way back in the forever ago, I had them take a little bit out of my tiny paycheck which would be used to automatically purchase their stock.  With that I got a cool 5 stocks in Disney...because I only worked there for a few months before moving to Burbank to work in the fast paced world of shoes.  Eventually I got my animation job, but at first it was shoes. 

And what goes in those shoes?  Feet.  So many many unique smells.  Actually - it wasn't a lot of unique smells, a lot of people's feet smell the same.  Bad.  It was strange at how someone would come in to try on a shoe with the dirtiest foot.  We were urged by our managers to put on the shoes for them, they'd just hold their foot out and wiggle their toes in giddy anticipation of me trying to force a shoe that was clearly too small onto their enormous hoof.  After a few too many soul scaring experiences, I just started lightly tossing the box of shoes in their direction and walking to a safe (clean air) distance.  If you have a foot fetish, I'd suggest working in women's shoes, because you get right in there and get an eyeball full of toe fungus and gnarly appendages.  So it cures you of your urges and you never want to look at another foot again.  But that's not what I'm supposed to be talking about...

My five Disney stocks sat and sat and sat.  I didn't do anything to them because I didn't need them for anything, and selling them wouldn't net me too much - When I got them in the first place they were in the $30 range...I checked a few years later and saw (during the dark, Home on the Range and Meet the Robinsons days) that the price had gone down to the mid teens.  It was disheartening, but that's what stocks do.

So I left them.  Suddenly - just 14 years later, I checked out the price for Disney stocks and they were around the $80 range!  Sadly, I still only have 5 of them.

It was time to take a good hard look into stocks.  You could make a lot of money, but you could also lose a bunch.  The big thing is to invest in good companies with good people running them.  How can you tell?  I'm still trying to figure that out - but there are a lot of benchmarks and numbers that are readily provided on sites like

I had no idea there were so many companies that were trading publicly.  What do you do to find a good one?  Invest time to find a good one?  That sounded like a lot of work, so I just typed in best stocks, best penny stocks, best stocks 2014 and so on.  Each search had a number of websites telling you to pick this one, or choose that one.  It's a horrible way to do it as you're relying on their research with your hard earned monies.

When you're speculating, you end up doing a lot of market watching and start biting your the stocks go down, the tips of your fingers are next to go and if you're (un)lucky enough to choose a stock that's a real dud, feel free to chew through your fingers as it's probably the only way you'll be able to keep yourself from making a mistake like that again.

If you're not trying to gamble (that would be speculating on penny stocks and day trading), then you want to pick up a book like "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham.  I have to warn you, it's incredibly dull.  But it'll get you on the right path to choosing a stock (or a portfolio of stocks) that are smart(er) choices.  There's always a bit of risk involved, so start off only using discretionary funds, not your kid's college fund and especially not this months rent.

I only have a small portfolio consisting of 4 stocks.  Every one I've picked so far has gone down almost immediately since I purchased them.  I have yet to eat through my fingers, but it's still heart wrenching when there's no news and the company you purchased suddenly tanks a few dollars a share.  Sticking with good companies, even when their price drops a little bit, is usually a good idea - because the price goes back up...usually...eventually.  Hopefully...!

We'll see how it goes...
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