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Even after repeated boom and bust cycles on Wall Street, it’s still possible to make real money in the stock market—provided investors take a disciplined approach to investing. Financial guru Jim Cramer shows how ordinary investors can prosper, no matter the climate on Wall Street. How do we find hot stocks without getting burned? How do we fatten our portfolios and stay financially healthy? Former hedge-fund manager and longtime Wall Street commentator Jim Cramer explains how to invest wisely in chaotic times, and he does so in plain English in a style that is as much fun as investing is—or should be, when it’s done right. For starters, Cramer recommends devoting a portion of your assets to speculation. Everyone wants to find the big winners that can bring outsized gains, and Cramer explains how to allocate your portfolio so that you can afford to take this kind of risk wisely. He explains why “buy and hold” is a losing philosophy: For Cramer, it’s “buy and homework.” If you can’t spend an hour a week researching each of your stocks, then you should hand off your portfolio to a mutual fund—and Cramer identifies the very few mutual funds that he’d recommend. Cramer reveals his Ten Commandments of Trading (Commandment #5: Tips are for waiters). He explains why he’s not afraid to compare investing to gambling (and tells you which book on gambling you should read to become a better investor). He discloses his Twenty-Five Rules of Investing (Rule #4: Look for broken stocks, not broken companies). Cramer shows how to compare stock prices in a way that you can understand, how to spot market tops and bottoms, how to know when to sell, how to rotate among cyclical stocks to catch the big moves, and much more. Jim Cramer’s Real Money is filled with insider advice that really works, information that Cramer himself used to make millions during his fourteen-year career on Wall Street. Written in Cramer’s distinctive turbocharged style, this is every investor’s guide to what you really must know to make big money in the stock market.
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Your personal investment strategy cannot exist in isolation. There are no such thing as universal rules or insider secrets that will apply to everyone all the time. Rather, your investment strategy can and should vary in sync with your individual investment goals, which will change and evolve throughout your working life.
There are only two genuine reasons why you should invest:
The rules of trading and the rules of investing are quite distinct and different. Many newcomers fail to understand or make this distinction, and end up taking ideas that apply in one context and applying them to situations that actually require an entirely different approach. This can be detrimental to your ability to achieve your investment goals, and almost guarantees that you'll get caught up in the periodic periods of "irrational exuberance" that typify the stock markets.
A lifetime investment strategy will never be one-size-fits-all. Instead, your investment choices and decisions should accurately reflect where you are in your working career lifespan. Before you make any investment decisions, take the time to get the right perspective in place first.
Your goal as an investor is really to create two different and distinct revenue streams:
1. A retirement revenue stream—the steady amount of money coming in each month that will be used to maintain your desired lifestyle throughout your retirement years.
2. A discretionary revenue stream—extra money that can be used at any time to buy luxuries and other non-essentials which make life fun.
It's vital that you understand and accept that you need to think and act differently about these two revenue streams. For example, you don't want to speculate with your retirement revenue stream—this has to be available irrespective of the ups and downs of the economy or the stock market. Equally, if you fail to speculate with your discretionary pool of capital, you can miss out on the impressive gains that can literally supercharge your returns.
Managing both pools of capital differently requires that you have the time and inclination to do so. For example, to create a diversified portfolio for your discretionary revenue stream, you'll need a minimum of five stocks in different sectors of the economy. You'll need at least one hour per week to study everything you'll need to maintain each share holding and to stay current with what's happening with each company. If you cannot realistically commit to doing the background work required, you're far better off investing your discretionary funds in a mutual fund rather than trying to make investment decisions for yourself.
Note also the increasing dominance of fixed-income investments in your retirement investments. This may seem counterintuitive when every other market commentator states stocks are the best long-term investment there is available. The point, however, is bonds and other fixed income investments preserve capital. Their value doesn't get affected by the health of the economy as a whole or by the swift downturns that have always characterized the stock market. As you get closer to the stage where your retirement income stream will become vital, caution should dominate your planning.
Most people only have three rules when it comes to their personal investment strategy:
You make the most by buying and holding stocks.
Trading stocks is always wrong, owning stocks is always right.
Speculation is the height of evil and very risky.
To address these common myths:
1. Buy-and-hold does work well if you've picked a company that's moving forward, but it is absolutely ridiculous to do so while you watch a good company go bad. Buy-and-hold assumes a level of ease and perfection that does not exist in the real world.
2. Trading—short-term buying and selling of stocks—far from being an evil is actually the only way you can lock in your gains. The emergence of discount brokers who will execute trades for a few dollars rather than hundreds of dollars has significantly changed the dynamics of share trading, and made it a vital part of intelligent investing.
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