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Money panel

Linda Hawkins: Tax professional, 58, New Port Richey

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 2, 2003

Q. How did you get started investing?

My father helped me get started. He'd ask me what research I'd done, then we'd talk about it. I've been investing since the 1970s.

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Q. What is your best investment so far?

A bank I bought in 1988 -- 30 shares. It split so many times, in 1998 I was able to pay cash for a new car.

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Q. What's the worst investment you've made so far?

Thermal Imaging. I bought it at $4.50, thinking it would go up, and now it's worth about 10 cents.

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Q. What have you learned about investing that you feel others need to know?

They need to do their homework. Don't rely on the financial people all the time. My father's words of advice were: Whether you make money or lose money, they always make money.

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Q. How would you describe your approach?

Sometimes I'm too aggressive. I'm risky. I'll take something that people will tell me to stay away from and take a chance. For example, I bought Philip Morris years ago, back in the 1980s, early '90s. My theory on that was that they are in tobacco, but they also have beer and fast foods. Which one will people give up in bad times?

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Q. How are you invested now?

I try to do the 20 percent: 20 percent each in retail, automotive, banking and technology, and cash.

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Q. Any other tips on investing?

You have to be willing to step outside of your comfort once in a while. And if it works once, don't think it's going to work every time.

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