I still have the certificate for the first stock I ever owned. Several family members, including my parents, grandmother and a favorite aunt and uncle, all pitched in to buy a stock I kept talking about for my sixteenth birthday. And it is the real deal, beautifully engraved in a burnt gold ink on light tan paper. They even punched holes in a little bar graph to denote the number of shares (LESS THAN 100 SHARES, it says in several places).

Marinduque Mining & Industrial Corporation (Incorporated under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines) was a copper mining outfit that had been around since 1949. 18-shares of Class “B” Stock purchased on August 25, 1975, and it says, typed on a real typewriter right on the certificate, CHRISTOPHER C-KARCHER UNIF GIFT MIN ACT TEX. Memory seems to recall a value of around $100. I had the CUSIP checked a decade ago, and its now worthless as an investment.

So my interest in the stock market and investing goes back a long way. I dabbled in college, but without sufficient funds, it didn’t amount to much. Beginning in the early 1980’s when I finally found myself gainfully employed, my investing career began in earnest. I took over management of a trust for my brother around 1991, and started overseeing a second family account in 1999. Now I manage a couple of personal accounts, college funds for the kids as well as the two trusts.

All this is important, to my mind, for a couple of reasons. First, my thoughts are not idle speculation. There’s real money being invested on the ideas being shared at Invest-notes. Second, while making no pretense to being a professional, I have completed the course work for becoming a Certified Financial Planner, but never took the final exam. Which leads to the final point, as much as I enjoy reading, studying and learning about investing, the idea of managing “Other People’s Money” had never been a goal. My suspicion is that being responsible for OPM would likely take the fun out of the game

This means you’re free to take what you’d like, but don’t expect any sympathy from me if things don’t work out – I’ll have my own problems to deal with. Just the same, for those interested in high finance, international business and big money, there’s no greater way for us little guys to participate than through becoming thoughtful investors to the extent our means allow. As my friend Matt Mohr told me long ago, “…the harder I work, the luckier I get.” Here’s hoping our work is fun and pays dividends we can actually spend.

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