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My highly unscientific stock investing method

A few years ago, I opened a Sharebuilder account to test the waters on buying ETFs and individual stocks with my $50 or so a month of leftover savings once I maxed out my Roth IRA. Investing $50 here or there into stocks like MCD and GOOG gave me a little rush… as they were riskier than the index funds the remaining $5k went into every year.

Since I opened the account in 2008, that account has amassed $53.6k in investments. I’ve watched the account lose 30% of its value during the great recession, kept investing at the market lows in stocks that seemed cheap, watched my account hit 25% profit, and return to 7%. Needless to say, my “for fun” stock and ETF account really has way too much money in it now to be “for fun,” but I’m not sure what to do about it.

For what it’s worth, many of my investments are in ETFs or very large companies that tend to be stable investments. I have 24 different ETFs and stocks in the account, including AAPL, AMZN, AND, COMV, CSCO, ENOC, EPI, EWZ, FTR (this was a split from VZ and I own like $3 of it), GE, GLD, GOOG, IHI, JNJ, KOL, MCD, OSTK, PBD, PG, T, VWO, VZ, WFMI, and XLF. (Recognize any of those?)

The worst performing by far is COMV, which is a small cap cleantech stock that has been all over the map. It’s doing really poorly right now so part of me is tempted to sell and part of me is tempted to wait and another part of me wants to buy more because based on my limited knowledge of the company, their history and potential, it seems like it’s cheap at the moment… and even short term it will probably move up again from where it’s at now. I don’t base this on any stock charts so really I don’t know. Shares are about $4.50 right now, my avg purchase price was $6.50, and I own around 700 shares.

On the other end of the spectrum, AAPL has performed very well, but it is SO expensive. I started investing when it was $250 a share, and now it’s around $340 a share. Along the way I’ve accumulated 70 shares of the stock, which really isn’t a lot given stocks don’t just keep going up and up once they’re so far up (do they?)

I’m probably most excited about AND, IHI, VWO and XLF. I wish I bought more WFMI for the long time it was doing poorly and my stock in it was down something like 60%.

I really don’t own a lot of shares of any one stock… COMV with 667 shares is my largest ownership from a sheer number perspective. Next up in my list, XLF, with 281.7 shares. Then VZ at only 119.59 shares. Needless to say, since this is just my Sharebuilder account (not including my Sharebuilder IRA, my Roth IRA and Vanguard accounts, or 401k from my last company) I’m likely over diversified and making poor investing decisions.

The way I look at it, though, is that at least I’m investing. It would be so easy to take that money and throw it away on a nicer apartment or other things I don’t need. At least in the stock market there’s a chance I’ll have some compound interest value on it over time. Then again, it’s extremely risky to put my money in the market this way… even though I am “buy and holding” I’m riding the same market that everyone else who is shorting and buying options and doing all those complicated investing things that I don’t understand in. So it’s hard for a novice like me to even understand what it all means, other than to put my money on as many spots on the roulette wheel as possible, and sit back as it spins.

Is this a terrible investing strategy? Do you have any advice for me?