Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Buy n' Hold for everyone?

Its a tough question to ask to certain people, there are certain people (most notably, Warren Buffett) who will live and die by the buy and hold philosophy of stock investing. They say historically the stocks perform better and when you trade frequently you water down your profits (or increase your losses) by trading expenses. As I've been reading, it seems as if the buy and hold philosophy would have returned you nothing over the last ten years, actually, you would have lost 11%. Ouch.

If you ever watch Jim Cramer and listen to him rant and rave about every stock under the sun, first you might think to yourself, "jesus, he talks to fast and churns through so many stocks in such a short period of time, how could I ever follow his advice?" and you also may think, "how can anyone with a full time job and a life (other than investing) keep up with him. So, for those reasons alone, you may think buy and hold is easier than trading frequently, but Jim Cramer will tell you different and he has had a very successful career as an investor, sans a few big hiccups he has had recently with his stock picks.

You may get a rush out of actively trading, and making a few bucks real quick, which is always a good feeling (hurts worse losing money real quick though). But you really need to access your goals, your time frame, your ability to handle risks (ups and downs, news, etc...) and the amount of free time you have to pick stocks and follow the active traders to see what they'll do before you can figure out what strategy is right for you.

Ill leave you with the thought that continues to occupy my mind as I think about these two strategies, and that is the number under Warren Buffetts name every year in Forbes or when you see him in the WSJ, the richest man, or very close to it.

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