Friday, March 20, 2009

Clubs, belonging, joining, participating

Do you invest in the stock market? I know, at the moment, even if you do or did, you may be wishing you hadn’t. That’s because 401Ks and IRAs are fluctuating so dramatically, we almost don’t want to touch them for fear they will fall even further, or worse, skip up then drop back like a stone.
Some people are rather good at investing and do it all by themselves, while others either not being very good at it and/or knowing nothing about it have brokers to manage it for them. And if you did want to do it yourself, how would you learn? Buy a book? Right, that always works. Have you ever heard of a stock club? For the past twelve years, I’ve belonged to one that I helped form. It started out as travel agents and comic book writers and/or their wives. An odd mix, but that’s what we were. We still have travel agents, one Graphic Novel writer’s wife (don’t call them comic books anymore), but the rest are not. We meet once a month, and are part of the national organization of NAIC. National Association of Investment Clubs.
We pay a yearly fee to belong, which gets each of us a monthly magazine, and we can purchase software and do most of our accounting, taxes, and investigations of stocks on line. The national organization provided us with guidelines, and we wrote our own bi-laws and set up our minimum and maximum monthly investment amounts. We each received a handbook on the way the organization felt we should go about studying stocks and what we should consider before buying. We elected a permanent treasurer, and rotated our chairperson and secretary. We have a different foodie each month, though we always meet at my house for the meetings except for our picnic in the summer and our Christmas party. (Last summer we picnicked on my back deck, and several of the newer people thought I should take over the picnic again. Hmmm.)
Besides a very friendly group of women getting together to study and learn about stocks, we have a rather fun time. Once we started buying stock, we each had to take a stock to watch and keep up with their business progress and future prospects. We are all expected to have ideas about what stocks to invest in, and NAIC has two charts we can complete to show whether they would be a good, not so good, or bad investment. We all vote to buy and/or sell, and sometimes we vote to buy only when the stock has reached a certain price. We do the same with selling. We haven’t done too badly, even now during our country’s present financial dilemma. If we are down, it is because people leave the club and we have to cash them out. It wasn’t such a problem in the beginning, there wasn’t much invested, but now that the club is older and the investments are bigger, one big investor leaving will demand that we sell stocks we’d prefer to hold on to.
It’s surprising how much fun a learning lesson can be. I remember when I was younger, clubs were the rage. Even schools organized clubs and set aside times for them to meet, and the more successful ones scheduled activities after school. Doesn’t seem like there’s much of that anymore. So, do you belong to a club of any kind? Are you much of a joiner? Were you ever? Does that sort of thing appeal to you? And I talking about the up close and personal kind of meeting with people, not the on-line groups that we seems to have moved to. I love all my on line groups, try to go to conventions and conferences—love traveling to them—but I’m talking about the local club-sort-of-thing that may take you out once or twice a month.


Annette said...

Pat, I'm a big joiner. From 4H when I was a kid to trail riding clubs, yoga organizations, and quilt clubs. Now it's Pennwriters and Sisters in Crime plus my critique group and a ton of online Yahoo groups. I love the chance to learn from and share with others.

The investing club is an interesting idea, but I'm a big chicken where the stock market is concerned.

My word verification is "guidic" or one who is addicted to guiding.

Annette said...

I had just had to add that the NEXT word verification that came up was holysin. Isn't that the ultimate oxymoron?

Anonymous said...

Pat, your blog makes me wish wholeheartedly that the stock club I tried to get going 10 years ago would have taken off. Ah, well.

I'm in two book clubs, does that count? And I have been in many other, mostly social or business-related, clubs in my life. It's lovely to hang out with others who share your interests, especially when most of your friends or relatives don't understand a word you say about said interests.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

This year I've dropped some of my club/group memberships. Just too much in my life and somethings have to go.

Of my writer's orgs, I'm only keeping SinC (national & local.)

With the St. Louis Writers Guild I was hitting up to 4 meeting per month and it was just too much.

As for finances, I used to be part of a loose investment club and we all thought we were geniuses. Come to find out that a Monkey could have made money in the market back then. I'm letting a professional handle it now. I'm watching over his shoulder, however. If he does well, maybe I'll let him live in my next novel.

Anonymous said...

Pat, interesting post.

I belong to Pennwriters and was very active (hosted a monthly meeting and served as an officer) for several years, but when I went back to work as a marketing communications copywriter and stopped focusing on speculative writing, I became a mostly inactive member.

Right now the only organization I am actively involved in is my younger son's elementary school PTA. I do their monthly newsletter and try to attend the monthly meetings but am not able to volunteer for many school events due to working full-time. Still, I have made many good friends through the PTA and feel much more a part of my community because of it, so I've enjoyed that.

The stock club sounds interesting. At some point, I decided that while I might be smart enough to educate myself to handle my own investments, I really wasn't interested in spending my time doing that. So I pay a financial planner to take care of that for me instead. He is a delightful boy, and we are very pleased with how well he's done for us over the past 3 years since we started working with him. I refer to him as a "boy" because he just graduated from college in 2004. Shortly after we signed on with him, we were in his office and my husband saw something on his shelf that said "Penn State University 2004," and said, "My God, Lisa, you've given our life savings to 24-year-old. He'll probably blow it on beer and hookers!" :-) But even with the recent economic woes, we're still on track to retire when we want to and send our kids to college, so I think he was an excellent choice for us.

Anonymous said...

I tend to join organizations connected to things that interest me, so of course I belong to Pennwriters and Sisters in Crime, not to mention Hobart Writers, a critique group that meets weekly.
I joined the Biblical Archeological Society to get free admission to their monthly lectures, which feature speakers on topics like Iron Age hill forts, domestication of the horse, and the ancient Egyptian economy.
Another monthly meeting I attend without fail is the Dream Workshop, where we discuss (of course) dreaming. Related groups I belong to are the International Association for the Study of Dreams (great annual conferences!) and the World Dreams Peace Bridge (an on-line group trying to dream peace into the world).
Then there's the Tuesday Night Folk Dance Group that meets every Tuesday night to folk dance.
And I guess I have to count my professional membership in the Allegheny County Bar Association, since I serve on a committee that meets monthly - the Gender Bias Subcommittee.
I guess that's about it.
My magic word is "carph" - sound of an auto coughing?

Anonymous said...

The thing that I 'think' I'm hearing is that we join to be part of like minded people, as well as if the group is doing something that interests us. I heartily agree with that. I loved doing a lot of my traveling with other travel agents, and I far prefer group travel trips over doing it on my own.
Stock clubs are very good for learning how it all works. It isn't just you and your money at work, and there are as many opinions as there are group members. However, no matter how much I've learned, I'd never take total control of my own retirement fund. Have a financial advisor for that for sure.

Patg said...

That last post was me, Patg. Don't know why my sine in didn't work.