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During our travel down life's path we come to many places where the trail divides and we must make a decision. Some involve psychological (emotional) choices ? marriage, divorce, leaving home, career changes, etc. Others are monetary ? buying a new car, home, starting your own business, investing, etc. Many are interwoven having aspects of both psychological and monetary.

The marriage decision means you have decided to live and share everything with a partner and also support that partner in every way including financial.

Investing in anything is at first mostly financial, but as you accumulate a larger and larger amount it begins to have a grip on your emotions. Greed and fear are the two great motivators in the investment community. Everyone wants to buy that $1.00 stock that goes up to $200 per share. Unfortunately, for most, the pot of gold remains at the end of the rainbow. As the years pass by and your investments become larger and larger fear of loss creeps into the subconscious. No one wants to lose.

During the past 3 years we have seen many people lose a great deal of their stock market investments. Both fear and greed have taken their toll. Wall Street has not taught you how to prevent loss and they never will. Until you have experienced losses you go along with the program and too late you realize there must be a better way, another path. Once you have found it you now have the decision to break away from old conventional wisdom. You realize that you have been following the wrong path.

Wall Street's maxims of Buy and Hold, Do Research and Dollar Cost Average have been and still are false. Once you have come to this understanding you will be on the road to successful investing. You will have taken the right turn on the path.

Losing money is not only a financial hardship but also a psychological burden. No one likes to be wrong, but hear this bit of advice about the stock market. It is OK to lose a small amount, but never OK to lose a large amount. Protection of your capital is of prime importance.

Whenever you buy a stock or mutual fund your first consideration should be how much am I willing to lose if it goes down instead of up? You can set that parameter at 5% to 20% of your investment. For stocks you can have the broker put in a permanent stop loss order, but for mutual funds you must set the price and make the call to tell the broker to sell you out. You are on the right path because you are in control. If you do sell with a 10% loss remember you now have 90% of your money remaining so you can find a more profitable vehicle. Ask around to find out how many of your friends now wish they had had one of those stop orders in place during the past 3 years.

The secret pathway to success in the stock market is selling, not buying.

Al Thomas

Author of "If It Doesn't Go Up, Don't Buy It!"

Never lose money in the stock market again.

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