Legalized Gambling

I think I’m becoming addicted to online investing. It’s like playing craps in Vegas, only you can do it in your pajamas and there are no scantily-clad waitresses offerering you watered-down drinks. Come to think of it, I would like the cats to offer me more coffee, although the scantily-clad part would be a little disturbing. I’m much too chicken to try anything like day trading, so I’m getting my stock market fix through an IRA. I don’t know why I never paid attention before. It’s fantastic!

I checked my balance online, and found that I had made $48 in three days. By doing nothing! And yesterday morning, I found that had grown to $100. $100 profit in one week. It’s brilliant! As of this morning, I am giddy to report that the gain total is now $119.71. This $119.71 is the careful result of 1) watching TV; 2) complaining about work; 3) doing very little actual work; 4) logging into my IRA account and clicking “Gains/Losses Summary”. Who knew investing could be this awesome.

I’ve been keeping P. informed about my mad investing skilz. Last night he said, “you really shouldn’t check your balance ever day.”

“I know. One day, my balance will go down $100 and I’ll be all depressed. And I’ll want to pull my money out immediately, only I have to keep it in there for like, 30 more years. I need to take a more long-term approach.

“No, you need to stop checking your balance because of the gloating.”

My 401k is equally thrilling. Get this: every time I put money in from my paycheck, my company adds half that much in too. And I know that’s a common thing these days, but why have I never done it? I get a 50% return right away. Well, as long as I keep working there for whatever the requisite number of years may be, and as I’m full of inertia these days, that just might happen. I have only made $14 in the last month in my 401k, so while not initially as exciting as my IRA, I’ve also made $248 in matching contributions. Which is truly exciting, because unlike my $100 gain in my IRA, which could turn into a $100 loss at any moment, that $248 gain is guaranteed twice a month!

It’s amazing, this investing thing. And I’ll even tell you my secret to picking winning mutual funds.

1. Look at the list of mutual funds your IRA offers for which you are not charged a fee to buy.

2. Compare that list to Money magazine’s list of the 100 top funds you can buy.

3. Buy funds that are on both lists.

4. Sit around, watching TV and reloading your online brokerage account page.

However, I’m plagued by the $55.21 left in the money market account portion of my IRA. I can’t put it into a mutual fund, because they all seem to have minimum investment restrictions and I haven’t found any with a minimum investment of $55.21. I should have bought $55.21 more of a fund back when I was doing the buying, but I wasn’t exactly paying attention. Possibly, I could sell a fund, move all that money into the money market account, then use the combined funds to buy the fund again. Or, I could contribute more money into the IRA to get to the minimum investment amount.

But I don’t actually know anything about funds, or if there are fees when you sell, or how the taxing and legal stuff works with contributing to an IRA when you’re already contributing to a 401k. I’m more the “reload the page” kind of girl. And so the $55.21 continues to plague me. Just sitting there. Making its .03 to .11 annual return (past returns no guarantee of future results, obviously).

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