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Nancy Dunnan

  • Invest in vanity. Buy stocks in high-profile companies whose products are designed to make you feel good and look good.

  • Avoid greed and fear. These are the investor's Achilles heels. Keeping all your money in the bank earning 3% interest is just as foolish as dumping your entire savings into the market thinking you'll make a quick buck.

  • Always leave a sinking ship. There's no virtue in hanging on to losers. And stocks don't have feelings.

  • Dive into the Dow. Once a year, invest equal dollar amounts in the ten highest yielding stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Also, once a year, replace those that no longer rank in the top ten with those that do. The thirty stocks in the Dow are listed every day in the Wall Street Journal. This technique has beaten the overall return on the DJIA since 1972.

  • Invest less at the end of the month. Brokers tend to push stocks at the end of the month in an effort to match or surpass their previous month's sales.

  • Give a cold shoulder to cold callers. Never invest in anything based on a phone call from someone you don't know or whose office is a post office box.

  • Wait for January. In thirty-six out of forty-five years since 1950, as January went, so went the market. If Wall Street likes the President's annual State of the Union message and federal budget for the coming year, investor enthusiasm tends to buoy the market for the next twelve months.

  • Sell before the holidays. Stock prices tend to rise on the last trading day before major holidays.

  • When a corporation goes into the marketplace to buy back its own stock, it means management thinks the stock is undervalued. This is a smart time to buy.

  • Bet on black. Buy low-debt or no-debt companies. When the economy is in trouble, these companies usually have enough cash on hand to stay out of trouble. And they seldom need to borrow when interest rates are high.

  • The higher the yield, the higher the risk. A high yield is designed to attract investors. An outrageously high yield attracts fools.

  • Bulls make money and bears make money, but pigs seldom do. When a stock or mutual fund is up 30%, sell one-quarter of your position.

  • If you're uncomfortable with your financial advisor, it's probably with good reason.

  • Have the courage of your own convictions and don't be swayed by friends who boast about their financial home runs. Last year's winners are often this year's losers.

  • Never call your broker on Monday. Out of courtesy and common sense, wait until Tuesday. A good broker is focused on the opening of the market — at home and around the world — and on getting back into a business frame of mind after the weekend.

Nancy Dunnan, U.S. financial advisor, writer

(1941)