Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sour Apple

Original Photo by zolierdos.
Sad Face by K!
For those of you who don't know, yesterday was Apple's third-quarter earnings report.  Since I'm an Apple fan-boy or fan-man, I justified that it was ok for me to gamble on Apple beating expectations and surging to new highs.  SHAME ON ME!  A 5.5% loss later and I'm wishing I would have sold at my profit target like a good little swing trader.  But hey, I just recently started picking my own stocks and am still getting my feet wet.  Lesson learned.

Why did I just start picking my own stocks you ask?  Or you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you why anyway.  Good question.

Coming out of college I was focused on a lot of different things, a new job, finding a house, a girlfriend that was getting tired of waiting around. Needless to say, there wasn't a whole lot of free time.  I had a little money from working summers during college that I wanted to invest, but didn't know much about the stock market and was afraid of picking individual stocks.  Instead, I picked a mutual fund  As time went on, I started learning more about the stock market and my interest in buying stocks increased.  Fast forward four years and guess how much I had made on my mutual fund investment.  Zero.  Well, with all I'd learned over that time, I figured I could have done that...right?

Bring on the stock

Not making any money in those four years was enough for me to overcome my angst about picking specific stocks.  But instead of jumping right in, I decided to start a virtual stock exchange game.  It's a cool fantasy stock trading game, at least as cool as a fantasy stock trading game can be, which is pretty freaking cool.  You can create games and invite friends. It can be a simple buy and sell game or a complex one using limits and margin accounts.

After playing for a few months and learning a thing or two, it gave me the confidence to switch to picking individual stocks with the money in our cash rewards credit card account. Now I'm addicted to the stock market, good or bad, and wouldn't change a thing.  Actually, I wish I would have done it sooner.  Which brings us to today.  My stock picks are beating my former mutual fund, errr, at least up to yesterday they were, and I'm having fun with a new hobby.  So, if you're at all interested in picking your own stocks, create a free fantasy game and give it a shot.  It's a good way to get started in the stock market and maybe you'll learn a few lessons, like I did today, without losing any real money.  Send me an invite and I'll play too.

Have you ever thought about investing in individual stocks or do you already?  Is there another financial move that you are interested in making but are afraid to jump into?

Note:  It is generally recommended that you invest no more than 10% of your portfolio in "mad money".  Mad money being individual stock buying/selling like I just started.  I'm only playing with 3.5% of my portfolio.  The rest is in low-fee mutual funds.

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