You know, I think a lot of people are missing some rooms upstairs. Why would they e-mail me to find out what stocks I would suggest? I mean, I'm not a stockbroker. I'm not an analyst; I'm not a guru. I really don't know and I am certainly not a fortuneteller. I have no idea what will work and what will not. But I can tell you at least what not to buy.

Don't buy any tips! Admittedly, I say this from a general standpoint and it doesn't apply in all cases, but I have been burned more times than I care to recall when I went out and plunked good money down on what supposedly were solid tips.

Now, from where were these tips? They weren't from Stone Cold Steve Austin or Randy Savage or even Hollywood Hulk Hogan. A number of them came from my own accountant. Yup! And a few came from a stockbroker who has made a lot of money in the market. You would think I would be relatively safe. Not so.

You know what the problem was, as far as I am concerned? I didn’t know any of these stocks. I was just taking it upon good faith that they were good ones. I didn't even bother to check them out.

Now, to a guy who considers himself pretty savvy about stocks and shleps around a degree from Oxford, has eight grandchildren, and snow on the roof, you would think that I wouldn't get taken in with a rush on stock tips. I did, and boy was I taken apart.

So, what did I do? First of all, my own financial planner (who never gives me a stock tip, which is probably why I still listen to him) always harped on diversification. And that's what I have spent the last few years in this bear market doing: spreading my pennies around as much as possible. You know something? "Asset allocation" are not just words. They do work and while other people were being driven to the sidelines by the market tanking, my stuff was, for the most part, remaining fairly solid.

Point two. Listen to yourself. I only buy securities on companies that I really know and respect, and on products I use. For example, I jumped in at an IPO when a specific donut company issued stock. I took it just so far (greed will kill you if you let it) and then sold the stock at a very nice profit … notwithstanding that it continued to rise thereafter. And I went in on an IPO with an airline I use most of the time. It's one of a few who really make money. And I got in on a giant retail establishment who couldn't lose money if they tried, primarily because everyone else is afraid of them.

So, the bottom line, at least for me, is to support those companies that you really use. I eat certain donuts because I think they're the best, I fly on a particular airline because, to me, it is the best, and I shop at a specific store because I like their stuff. A fashion plate I am not.

Listen to yourself. You'll probably get the right answer.

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