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The Little Book of Bulletproof Investing: Do's and Don'ts to Protect Your Financial Life by Phil DeMuth, Ben Stein

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Chapter 7. Pulling the Trigger: Practicing Portfolio Management at Home for Fun and Profit

One drawback to being a "do-it-yourselfer" when it comes to investing is that in many cases you actually have to do it yourself. No elves appear to magically do it for you. If you're married or have a boyfriend or girlfriend (or some combination), it's possible that your partner will do it all for you, but this convenience comes at the price of you not really knowing what's going on. Your ignorance might not turn out to be bliss.

Luckily, your diligent authors have detailed below all the steps necessary to invest for yourself. Pencils sharpened and blue books open? Okay, let's go.

Finding Mr. Right

It's all well and good to know exactly what securities you want to buy, but you can't just keep the mutual fund shares under your bed or in the garage. If you are a do-it-yourself investor, you first need an investment account at a brokerage firm. In fact, you may need more than one: an IRA and a taxable account as well.

Here's the rub: Our low-turnover, buy-and-hold mentality is exactly the opposite of what most Wall Street firms are looking for in a customer. They want someone who is going to be a trading machine, up day and night buying and selling stocks and generating commissions. You want to find a brokerage firm that will grudgingly take you on as a customer even though your use of their services is going to be minimalist. Fortunately, we've already done most of the digging for you.

Every year, ...

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