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The money panel

JEFFERY A. SMITH: Assistant state attorney, 54, Inverness

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

Q. How did you get started investing?

I had an uncle who gave me some stock certificates in three different companies when I was in the sixth grade, and I followed them in the newspaper. That got me going. I would read the sports page in the morning and then the stock page.

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Q. What was the best investment?

Microsoft and Intel. Wish I had sold my Intel a long time ago, but I'm still ahead of the game on it.

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Q. What was your worst investment?

A stock that a friend of mine told me about, Universal Gaming. They designed gaming machines for casinos. I bought it without checking it out.

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Q. What have you learned about investing?

You have to be in it for the long term. If you look at it every day, day in and day out, you'll develop an ulcer. I don't look at the stocks every day; I do it once a month when I get my statement. I look at mutual funds for the week.

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Q. How would you describe your approach to investing?

It's getting more conservative the older I get. Now I'm buying bonds I wouldn't have bought 10 to 15 years ago. Series I bonds look pretty good.

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Q. Is this a good time to invest?

No. I think right now it's best to be in a liquid position. I'm going to wait and see what shakes out in the Middle East.

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Q. How many years do you think it will take to achieve a comfortable retirement?

Six years, or until I get tired of what I'm doing. And I really love what I'm doing.

* * *

Q. Any investment tips?

The first thing someone should do is get a Roth IRA. Set aside money every month to get the Roth IRA up to maximum. It's so good I'm afraid they're going to take it away.

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