The Coffeehouse Investor


Do you ever wonder if financial journalists have real lives? No, really. Each month, Money Magazine, Kiplinger's and all the rest boldly announce the mutual funds you should buy now. Or, they tell you about all of the great resources at your finger tips so you can spend hours and hours researching and monitoring your investments. They don't seem to realize that most people have much better things to do with their free time then pouring over the pages of the Wall Street Journal or surfing the Internet for the latest stock quotes.

Well, The Coffeehouse Investor takes a refreshing, common-sense look at the investment world. Author Bill Schultheis has stumbled upon the idea that most investors are not very interested in tracking the markets closely. To wit:

"For every person who is caught up in the daily activities of Wall Street, there are many more who don't want to spend one ounce of energy on it... These are the people who are passionately involved in their families and careers and enjoy spending their creative energies in places other than the stock market." p. 13

The book covers the basics of risk and asset allocation. Three simple asset allocation models are included along with information on rebalancing. Basic concepts of index funds are presented, including tips on building a portfolio of index funds. The author gives some common sense advice about savings--"Listen: it is not worth making your life miserable today so you can retire in style tomorrow", and the book finishes with ideas on picking stocks. As the author says, "If you want to have fun in the stock market...make sure you--and not some mutual fund manager--is the one having fun."

"With the stock market averages consistently outperforming 75 to 85 percent of all managed mutual funds, it is a tribute to the massive marketing machine of Wall Street that so many investors spend so much time and effort trying to select the top mutual funds." p. 83

One of the most telling parts of the book is the list of suggested additional readings: a cookbook, a book about golf, Anne Lindbergh's Gift From the Sea, and a book about mountain climbing. Oh yeah, and three books about investing (Bogle, Malkiel, and Siegel). The message is clear. Investing is a means to an end--it's not an end in itself, and indexing can help us invest sensibly and get on with our lives.