I forget what the opposite of a “Type A” personality is (Type Z?), but here is a woman who would appear to be both wonderfully relaxed about life, and honest. And I’m not just saying that because I am her love slave for life for having added significantly to my already vast fortune. (Typically, on hardcover books the author gets 15% of the retail price less a small-concealed shipping charge, though only 10% on the first 5,000 copies and 12.5% on the second 5,000 copies. On paperbacks, 5% to 10% of the retail price.) She writes:

OK, OK. After only mild suggestions, I purchased your book on-line through your hyperlink. I got it in the mail yesterday and began reading it this evening. It promises to be as entertaining as your Investment Guide, which I read under the Caribbean sun. Not that I have made any particularly outstanding investments over the years, but I did enjoy the book and have given a number of copies away. I am going to the hyperlink right now to get a couple more copies for friends that I talk money with. Not that any of us spend very much time on money matters, but it has become a “fun” topic over the years. The kidding about the ones that got away and the ones we rode to zero. Such as you may have missed IBM at 50, but you managed to get some great Barton wallpaper.

Actually I wonder if I am the only person that has found a few stocks to lose money on in the last few years. I do not think so, but few people admit it.

I believe that I have a realistic performance threshold for funds or brokers. The funds should do as well as if I had gone fishing and left the money in a money market savings account. Is that just too difficult? Actually, the last couple years have been fine, but over the long haul some of the accounts have not come close to passing that arduous test under my careful tending. Pretty scary.

Mary A. Block
devoted fan, but bad investor

I run this letter partly because I promised Random House I’d find 101 ways to plug my book, and so far I have inflicted on you only 83. Eighteen to go. But also because I thought you might find Mary’s attitude interesting. Either it mirrors your own, and makes you feel better for not being alone (I’ve never heard of Barton wallpaper — do they make wallpaper, or did this just become the best use for their stock certificates? — but I have managed to lose money in any number of stocks these last few years) . . . or else it gets your blood going (Type A that you are, like me), angry that she allows herself to be taken advantage of by poorly performing brokers (she’d have been a lot better off picking the stocks herself and paying deep-discount commissions) and poorly performing mutual funds (she should have gone with a no-load, low-expense index fund) . . . or else it gets you racing to find her e-address, hoping to sell her something with a high commission (which is why I have disguised her name).

It takes all kinds in the stock market, and I fear that some of those who are nicest, like Mary, may provide more than their share of fuel for the great money machine. Then again, it sounds as if she isn’t hurting, and she’s having a good time. Hard to beat that.

Tomorrow: Scary Expectations



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