Ethan:Monday‘s column includes the self-aggrandizing letter about the book that saved a life, but it didn’t mention which book. I think you may have a new customer.’

☞ I call it, The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need – which is more than a little embarrassing when you consider how many times I’ve had to revise it.


William H. M.: ‘Thank you for your book. I read it and am mailing on to my daughter. My net worth is about 1.3 million. Not that much these days. However, I have not been to the barber in 27 years. Lots of hair. People can plug their own numbers into how much money (and time) this has saved and made.’

☞ You were expecting hot stock tips? The book is mostly about haircuts – and not getting scalped.


Jack Maret: ‘Your P.T. Barnum story reminds me of a quote of Mark Twain’s: ‘In a Havana, Cuba museum is an exhibit that includes two skulls, described as ‘Christopher Columbus’s Skull As a Man,’ and ‘Christopher Columbus’s Skull As a Boy.”’


Lynn Smith: ‘I was considering using my home equity line to pay off the last of our over-budget home renovation project, when I noticed one of those 0% APR junk mail letters. I thought, why not? I scoured the fine print for the catch, but couldn’t find one. This offer is for six months 0% APR, and they waive the cash advance service charge for $$ requested when you open the account. Easiest $12,000 I ever borrowed, as they direct deposited the funds right into my checking account! When the six months is up, I plan to roll over the balance to some other promotional card at 0%. Already I’m stockpiling the offers I’m getting in the mail (they seem to arrive almost daily). In the worst case, I’m back to my home equity line for the remaining balance. Of course, I’ll have to be cautious to make all the payments on time. I’m planning $500/mo for 2 yrs. Normally I’d never carry a credit card balance, but this offer was too good to pass up.’


J. T. Keter: ‘I’ve read that small things can reveal big things in stocks. I was thinking of buying Oakley stock. I bought a pair of their shoes I loved. But within the first week, the top layer of the inner soul of one shoe folded down. Same with the other shoe not long after. I thought, ‘If they don’t have quality control down with these shoes, maybe their whole company isn’t run well.’ On the power of that alone I didn’t buy the stock. Today an L.A TIMES headline reads ‘Oakley profits down 66% this quarter.’ I’m glad I listened to myself!’

☞ Well, this kind of anecdotal analysis has a way of cutting through a lot of footnotes. And every time one of my TiVos gets sent in for repair, I worry about my larger investment in TiVo stock. My hope – and it’s only I hope – is that the new ‘TiVo 2’ line has corrected some of the reliability problems. Two of the original TiVos I’ve bought (for us and others) have worked more or less flawlessly for more than a year; two others have had to be sent in for repairs. And that can’t be good for business. Yet I can no longer live without TiVo, and neither will you be able to once you try it – so I hang on.


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