The contrast could not have been more stark. Here I am, reading all of your wonderful emails about how you made so much money this year. Some of your profits came from using
wisely, but most came because you took the time to seek out and buy the right stocks. You weren't intimidated by the process any longer. You could take it on and win at it.
Next thing I know, my wife's aunt pulls up next to me to tell me she's worried about something. She's worried about all of the losses that she hears about from people trying to do it themselves, and how these investors are being slaughtered even though we have a bountiful bull market.
My wife's aunt is very set in her ways, but she's still willing to listen to an argument from her niece's husband. I tell her that her worries don't jive with what I am reading in the thousands of emails I get from successful investors. She tells me that she watches TV and reads the papers and hears it all of the time -- that most people are losers at this stock game.
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The daytraders. The media constantly confuses the daytraders, who are operating under insane conditions, and the do-it-yourselfers, who have no guns to their heads and aren't relying on their stock-picking prowess to pay the rent.
Part of mastering this game is creating the time and the mindset that you would devote to any hobby. Not every amateur photographer is going to be
, but he or she can still take terrific pictures. Not all amateur football handicappers are going to be as good as the guys who pick on TV, but sometimes they can be. And not all hobbyist golfers are going to be able to go to the
one day, but there are plenty of great amateurs.
That's about how hard investing is. It's ultimately a game where the hobbyist with the time and inclination is going to be as good as, if not better than, the professionals.
So why doesn't it happen more? Because the news media often devote more time to those who think investing is dangerous than those who think it can be mastered with some common sense. It is a shame. Can you imagine how many people would do better on their own if they weren't frightened, like my wife's aunt, into thinking they couldn't?
What a crime!
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James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at