Life changes are always difficult and an opportunity. In 1990, I divorced. For the next 10 years I puzzled over, “how to support myself.”
By 1996, my volunteer work (National and State Chair of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Committee) finished and I needed a job. I wasn’t worried. I had been successful in every endeavor. I was 50, not young, but not old, and with a lot of experience. The long and short: no one, not a University, not the government, not any of the consulting firms I had worked with, offered me a job. Alimony was running out. I had to a find job and I couldn’t.
I had time on my hands and no work. For the next few years, I walked on the beautiful college campus three blocks from my house. During my wanderings, I began to open classroom doors; sit and listen to lectures. When I came across a basic Econ class, I knew I had found something.
Soon, I was spending 3 hours in lectures (micro economics, international economics) and becoming a voracious consumer of finance books and finance sites; this led to finance and investing courses.
When I began, I knew nothing about money, not even the basics of how to pay your bills, let alone budget or how to read a company’s balance sheet, etc. I knew how to spend money.
I did know a little about retail, buying and selling. I grew up in my father’s drugstore. I learned pricing: what people bought the day before a holiday, the afternoon of the holiday, and how you gave it away or took it home the day after the holiday.
I learned benchmarks at the cash register. Business was good if we had $100 in the cash register for every hour we were open. Now, we compare our portfolios or mutual fund returns to the S&P 500 or some other Index. Later in Graduate School, I learned statistics, analysis, and research methodology.
I decided stocks were not much different, just something you buy and sell. Jim Cramer said this often on his radio show and subsequently on his TV show, Mad Money. Self-investing was for me.
I took all my money out of mutual funds and started to invest. I read the NYTimes, WSJ, and everything that Jim Cramer ever wrote and signed up for Action Alerts, Cramer’s investment service at thestreet.com. He spoke a retail language, differentiated fundamentals of companies and the buys and sells of a stock.
From this site, I found inspiration and hope from Rev Shark’s writings about life change, flexibility, and opportunity for the individual investor. Doug Kass tied theory, politics and investing together for me. So many others showed an in depth knowledge of a sector or particular market.
A completely new way of learning for me: out of the classroom and onto the “internet.”
Year after year, week after week, I recorded, reviewed, evaluated, re-evaluated every stock position I bought and sold. I made lists of stocks that I linked to a trend that seemed relevant, interesting and conceivably profitable; then watched for the results. I watched the moment- to- moment ticks of a handful of stocks. I learned what I call the personality of a stock (known “in the business” as part of a technical analysis); not much different than figuring out the price you are willing to pay on the final mark-down of your favorite designer’s clothing line.
At the end of 2009, my son suggested I start a blog; share ideas, be publically accountable for how I invested.
Vickispuzzle was born February 2010.
For 18 months, I’ve given my account balances; what I buy and what I sell; what I see and how I think it will affect us; the increase or decrease in the IRA account and the news and current events that I think will have an impact on the Market or an individual stock.