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Hi Gupsterhouse,

I sub to the TMF advisor and love the TMF select. I find their ideas very good. I also subscribe to Value Line and Investor's business Daily and the Fools message boards. Like MESuther I consider my stock research to be fun.

But now I am going to tell you the cheapest and most time efficient way to follow your stocks and to learn about them.

The only paid resource I feel is essential is the Motley Fool boards and articles which can be purchased for around $29 a year. I will explain why I feel the Motley Fool is essential later in the post.

In my opinon, Value Line is the only other resource you need. Fortunately, you can find Value Line in about any local library. They cover 1700 stocks and update these stocks quarterly. Each stock has about 15 years of data that is important to valuing companies.

Here is a free sample of their updates on the 30 Dow stocks

You will need a bookshelf devoted to your notebooks or folders. There should be a folder for each company that you have some interest or want to know more about. In these folders, you need to copy each quarterly Value Line update, company-specific articles that you can find on the web, message board posts concerning the companies you most like and store them in those folders.

You should also devote one shelf to articles showing you how to value companies. And these can include how to interpret financial statements. The Motley Fool has many great articles on how to interpret financial statements. Here is a list of such articles.

You can also use this shelf to copy message board posts about valuation.
The Foolish Collective is a great board to ask questions and they are always discussing how to value companies.

I think it is important to go to the library once a week for about two hours so you can look at the new Value Line update. It comes out each Friday. I would encourage you to make copies of some of the companies in each industry whether you are interested in them or not. One of the mistakes, I believe many investors make is not expanding their base of knowledge enough. There are opportunities that occur in most all industries and at some point in time you may decide to invest in companies that comprise those industries. And it is worth it to be acquainted a bit with everything that is out there.

This sounds like a lot of work but when you are just learning and have not decided where you want to focus your research it does take a bit a time to create your database of potential investments.

A quicker way and a way that is cheaper than subscribing to a year of Value Line is to pay $55 for their trail subscription. This trial will give you one quarter of updates on all 1700 stocks and one update will be sent to you for 13 weeks or for one additional quarter. These updates will give your database a great start. And then after reading these updates you can start narrowing your focus.

I would suggest not narrowing your focus before giving a bit of study to each of the industries discussed in Value Line. Gems can be found in many industries. And you will find these industries depend on each other and it is important to understand those relationships.

After narrowing your focus a bit you can start finding research on each of those companies that you like the most

The library is also a great source for magazine archives. They have Forbes, Fortune, Better Investing, Kiplinger, Money magazine, and many others. These financial magazines, as well as Fool articles, feature many great suggestions on potential investments. But remember; these are suggestions only. They should be placed on your wish list. You should then do your research on them.

A good way to do research on companies that you may be interested in is to first read the updates from Value Line. And then check and copy news articles that you find on the companies using the Motley Fool search engine which will direct you to all the articles written about those companies.

I would then do a Google search on each company in which you have an interest. Just place the name in the Google search engine at This search engine will direct you to many articles written about your target companies. Read the message boards devoted to your target companies too and copy relevant posts. Place them in your folders. This will save you a lot of time when you are deciding on the companies in which you want to invest. Your research will be all in one place.

Don't be in a hurry to invest. Take your time and develop a system to value each company. It does not have to be a complicated system. The best systems are based on a little common sense and some basic financial statement snooping. And perhaps a bit of math. The Foolish Collective will be glad to give you hand on helping you get started.

Once you have found the companies you are most interested make sure you keep your folders updated on them. Create a buy report for the companies you wish to invest in and post that report on the board devoted to that company. This to me is very important. It does not have to be a fancy report just some simple reasons why you think it might be a good investment. Post it and then study the feedback you get. I have found that the feedback from other Foolish posters will give me additional negative and positive points that I missed in my initial research. This can validate my research or completely make me change my mind about an investment. The Foolish Collective will be glad to give you additional feedback on companies you write a report on. It is a fun and efficient way to get additional feedback that will help you make a final decision.

Also check out their archives of research reports –

How much time does it take?

About 7 hours a week.

How much money does it cost?

The price of the Motley Fool message board $29.95.
Your internet connection – mine is AOL $230.00 a year. Of course you have your own and it might be cheaper or more expensive depending on your connection speed.

The price of a bunch of folders. But you can also just punch holes in the copies and file them in boxes whichever is best for you.
And the cost of copies. The libraries allow you to make copies for 10 cents.

Its really not expensive or time consuming as much as it is getting started and keeping at it. Most people quit long before giving themselves a chance to learn how to invest sensibly. By copying updates, you can read them when you have spare time or waiting in traffic, doctors office or anywhere you have to wait and can carry some reading material.

Once you have the stocks you are most interested in, it will take far less time to keep things updated.

Anyway this is basically how I do it.


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