No. of Recommendations: 6

I've long been of the opinion that the stock selections in many of the Motley Fool newsletters are about the third most important piece in the services' value chains. And I'm actually under contract by one of them and have said the same thing to the newsletter's members.

The way I see it, the most important thing an investment newsletter can share with its members is a solid investment philosophy that has the legitimate potential to succeed over time. That's critically important because the market moves as the market moves and will move against all of us from time to time. Even Warren Buffett, arguably the greatest living investor in the world, fell behind the S&P 500 for a five year stretch ( ).

With a strong handle on a solid investment philosophy you as an investor can make the right decisions for yourself and your portfolio even during those times when the market moves against you. Without a strong grasp on a solid investing philosophy, what keeps you from panic selling near a low point, buying in near a high point so as to 'not miss out', or simply "waiting on the sidelines" while missing out on decent returns?

In my opinion, the second most important thing that a Fool newsletter offers its members is a community of like-minded investors all working together to improve their investment returns. There's nothing quite like having a couple thousand of your closest friends 'check your work' to help you sharpen your own investing saw, improve your own critical thinking skills, and see both positive and negative aspects of a potential investment that you may have missed on your own. Heaven knows I've greatly benefitted from the reasoning of others, both paid Fools and subscribers, and I only hope I've been able to pay forward the favor.

Then, in third place from my perspective, come the stock selections themselves. I view them as putting into practice the investment philosophy and community-centric analysis to help people intelligently invest the hard earned money they're putting aside for their futures. Is that valuable and important? You bet. Is that the most important part? Well, without the first benefit (the philosophy), just the selections themselves can be dangerous to an investor's net worth, even when they ultimately prove to be successful over the long run. And in those periods of time when the market moves against a selection, being an active part of the community to discuss what's happening can help people steer their own thinking to make decisions for the right reasons -- whether the ultimate decision be to sell, hold, or buy more.

Can you invest without the Fool or its newsletters? Certainly. Can you be successful at it? Yup. It really is a question of whether the total value that a newsletter brings to you is more than its cost. Part of it is the stock selections. Part of it is the philosophy. And part of it is the community. Only you can answer whether that's worth the price of admission.

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