I've made money on IBM ( IBM) and Costco ( COST). I've broken even on General Electric ( GE), and lost a little on Red Hat ( RHT). All this is done through a retirement account, called a SEP IRA, and so I don't think about tax implications and just go for the capital gains. Whenever I have any stake in any investment I write about for TheStreet.com, in that SEP IRA, it's disclosed at the bottom of the piece. You may see that I am long on Google ( GOOG). If by long, you mean I own 10 shares, then I'm pretty long. I doubt Larry Page stays awake nights worrying about me. I am not an expert. I'm an ordinary investor, like you. When the market goes up, I make money. When the market goes down, I lose money. At one point, in 2009, my IRA was worth just $140,000, instead of the $220,000 I'd pushed into it over the years. Now I'm more than whole. Charlie says I'm ahead by $33,000, but the memory of 2009 lingers - had I panicked I might be retiring with a tin cup in my hand.
The point is, I have no special insight. I write for TheStreet.com as a reporter. I'm not a big investor, not a banker, and certainly not a big swinging, uh, moneybags. I'm not a "player," just one of the guys in the stands, in a corner of the press box, looking for the free coffee and doughnuts. And I have one more investment "tip," my very best trade. Back when I was writing for ZDNet, after it became part of CBS ( CBS), I pushed all my money into mutual funds, because my employer said it was the ethical thing to do, and I feared losing my job if I didn't do the ethical thing. One of those mutual funds tracked the S&P 500, and is run by my bookie. The Schwab S&P 500 Index ( SWPPX) is up by 16%, but compounded that's $15,000. I don't think about it, I let others think about it, and I think it's my best bet of all. Except, perhaps, for Aunt Till's bond. Up the rebels. At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL, SCHW, IBM, COST, GOOG, and SWPPX. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.