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How to become a successful income investor

Yes, You Can Be a Successful Income Investor: Reaching for Yield in Today's Market

by Ben Stein and Phil DeMuth

Chapter One

Welcome to the Real World

In a nation where the official inflation rate is presently 2.3 percent, the following table shows the yields available on our savings as of this writing.

In other words, we're earning a negative return after inflation and taxes. Still, even in today's low-interest-rate environment, higher yields are available. Look at the income tantalizingly offered by some of the securities on the next page:

Many more examples can (and will) be given. Yet most of us know little, if anything, about these investments. We want to extract the maximum possible income from our savings, and we'd love to earn these kinds of returns. But would our money be safe?

By the time you finish reading this book, you'll know-or at least, you'll know as much as we do. Gone are the days when you could turn over your investments to a bank or a brokerage house and be confident of getting a fair return on your dollar (if those days ever existed). Today, you need to learn everything you can about your money and how to put it to work for you.

Our plan is simple: We're going to talk about a number of different income-yielding securities, and then tell you how to combine them in a portfolio, where we'll endeavor to secure the maximum yield for the least amount of risk.

We're going to name names and be specific, rather than talk in generalities. The investments we call to your attention in this book are all available to ordinary retail investors. Our recommendations are guidelines but by no means exhaustive. They should be good jumping-off points, but there may be others that are superior. Our experience is that simpler is usually better, and that being well diversified and keeping expenses low-two of our goals-will serve you well in the long run.

If we mention a particular investment along the way that has you smacking your lips, please read the entire book before opening your wallet. One of the biggest differences between amateur and professional investors is that professionals have a top-down, "big picture" view of their investment portfolios, while everyone else tends to have a collection of individual securities that struck their fancy at one time or another, but without much regard as to how they all fit together. It makes more sense to decide on your overall strategy, first, and then choose the specific investments to park inside it.

The world of income-producing securities is a mysterious jungle. This book is a sightseeing tour bus, pointing out some of the lavish orchids you may wish to acquire for your garden, while steering you away from some of the tigers known to be man-eaters.

Let's start by looking at the circumstances that led us to write it.

Copyright © 2005 Ben Stein and Phil DeMuth

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