I have not been a market watcher my entire life, and in many ways I am still relatively new at managing my own money. I pay attention, do my homework and listen to smart people, and then make my own decision.That's quite different from when I was in my playing days. Back then, I let my money manager make a lot of decisions for me. I thought that was the way it was supposed to work, and I really didn't have to do a whole heck of a lot except keep pulling down those passes and bringing home those paychecks. When I was playing, I left my finances, to a large extent, to the pros. Only later did I realize that I could handle certain parts of my portfolio myself. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not recommending a mass exodus from brokers or advocating that everyone manage all of their own money. That could be a disaster, especially if you don't have the time to do your own research and make truly informed decisions. I wouldn't try to play one of the best teams in the league without ever opening the playbook, and I wouldn't gamble away my money by not doing my research before plunking down my hard-earned cash. Winging it will get you in deep trouble. When you do that, you make decisions after only seeing a fraction of the picture. Now, for me, getting started was fun. I took a small amount and watched some stocks. I listened to people on TV. I read The Wall Street Journal and TheStreet.com and other great finance news sites. I paid attention to the way the market affected the stocks I was following, and I talked to my friends about my investment ideas.