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Not sure where to post this. If someone thinks there is a better place for this, please let me know.

Hello to all the new Fools and wanna be fools-no-more.

I wanted to write this to share with anyone who is new to the Fool what my experiences have been here at TMF. I have taken the 30 day trials of I believe all of the newsletters and the boards and thought I would share what I have seen. I hope my thoughts and experiences will help you to navigate this new world (for me) of investing.

How and why I found the Fool:
About 1 year and 1 week ago, I left my active duty navy career. All of a sudden my guaranteed retirement and steady paychecks were gone and instead I had to log my hours and decide on what to do with my 401K. It was the search for better understanding of my 401K that led me to the Fool.

The newsletters (all opinions based solely on 30 day trials):

Inside Value (IV):
This is the first newsletter I took the trial of. Its selections are based on a Value style of investing. My overall impression is that the ad wasn't kidding. “Invest like an adult” is not something to take lightly. Many of the stock choices from that newsletter will take time and patience to see to fruition. Another impression I want to share was of the main staff of stock pickers. Of the ones I saw, especially TMFAdmiral (Phillip), they were all razor sharp. They had the numbers down cold and always followed up. However, as this was near the beginning of my investing career, most of what they were talking about was over my head and there was much I did not appreciate. “What the heck do I need a DCF calculator for anyways? My TI-83 works just fine.” Needless to say, over the course of this year I have grown in my knowledge (I finally finished The Intelligent Investor) and now understand and appreciate the crew over there even more.

Rule Breakers (RB):
This was a pure fun ride of stock picking. After IV's disciplined approach, RB just seemed like pure lunacy. But what fun it was. If you want to enjoy the thrill ride of investing, the RB has some stock selections for you. I even bought one of the selections. Knowing what I know now, I probably would not have done that. But hey, the stock is still in the black, so what do I know. Anyways, compared to IV, there was little to no valuation work going on. So be prepared to ignore the whole concept of intrinsic value, or even what to realistically expect for a return. Just enjoy the story and the ride.

Hidden Gems (HG):
HG is a newsletter focused on undervalued small cap stocks.
I had a high degree of confidence in the HG selections. This seemed like the perfect combination of the small cap picks of RB with the valuation work of IV. Even still, as I understand it, there have been several management problems with the HG selections. Overall, if I had to pick one, this is in my top two, along with CF (based purely on my financial situation).

Income Investor (II):
This is a newsletter focused on stocks with relative high, but safe, growing dividends that are slightly undervalued. Kind of like a dividend focused IV.
This had to be the most boring of the four so far. By boring, I mean safe and little story. In Rule Breakers, there was a story behind why that stock would be the next Wal-Mart and you could get on board and live a little of that story. In II, you know the companies, know their dividends, and are told the assessed Intrinsic Value. But there was no story. Despite this, I bought one of the recommendations. It's slightly down, but the dividend payout continues to grow within my expectations, so I'm happy.

Champion Funds (CF):
This newsletter is focused on picking superior Mutual Funds and building a good overall portfolio.
I would say that I had a high degree of confidence in TMFZman's ability to pick the funds. My problem was my lack of knowledge again and trying to understand what CF was advocating for me to do. In the CF web page, there is a section on portfolios, based on the level of risk. My problem was one of ignorance. I saw a lot of information to ingest before I could come to some level of comfort with the selections. Long story short, there are a few terms that you will need to learn well in order to appreciate this service.

Rule Your Retirement (RYR):
I'm in my late 20's so I didn't really try to get into this one. All I can say is that it looked like a grab bag of almost every topic that could be relevant to someone approaching or in retirement. There wasn't any single theme but I believe that if you were at or approaching retirement, there would be a good community here for you.

Stock Advisor (SA):
This is just the brothers Gardner going at it with their own personal stock picks. There was no real limitation on what type of stocks; just whatever they felt was best at the time. I don't know how to say it other than like that. I, due to my “real” life, did not have time to dig into SA like I did some of the other services so I cannot offer any real observations.

The boards:
There are several specific boards I would like to highlight.
Foolish Collective, Liquid Lounge, Index Funds, Berkshire Hathaway, and a few others are great starting places for your investing analysis. Don't go there looking for someone to give you a selection. But if you want to learn and are tackling something specific, after reading the board FAQ, the posters there are usually very happy to help you on your investing journey. I learned quite a bit just from lurking (reading but not posting) and many of the posters have significantly impacted my investment decisions. I HIGHLY encourage you to surf through the boards. It will take some time to get your bearings. If you know your investing style already, then you will probably find the board you are looking for rather quickly. If not, then spend some time reading several threads from each board. If you are not sure whether a board will be fruitful or not, a good indication is the number of posts. If the number is high compared to others in the same category, then a group of similar minded people have probably camped out there and are talking regularly about whatever that board is about.

Also note: the non-financial boards can be addicting. I made the mistake of looking into one called Political Asylum (PA). If you feel the need to rant about a random topic in politics, this is the board.

Other notable boards:
Help with this STUPID computer!
Humor and Urban Legends
Atheist Fools
Christian Fools

There are many excellent boards and I'm sure one that is relevant to your interests and your investment style.

Anyways, I hope this is somewhat helpful to someone somewhere. I got a bunch of free trials and a HUGE amount of knowledge, guidance and direction for free. The least I can do is try to give back.

As there are no more trials left to take, and my financial situation is focused primarily on my 401K, I do not see a need at this time to subscribe to any of the newsletters. I will miss the Fools I have met on the boards. The banter was a regular part of my day and those sages that regularly and selflessly share their knowledge and experience will definitely be missed.

Good luck.

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