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Mutual Fund News

ME AND MY MONEY

Special to The Globe and Mail

Deborah LaCourse, 50

Occupation

Financial adviser

The portfolio

Stocks (Encana Corp., TransCanada Corp. and Manulife Financial Corp.), corporate bonds, GIC ladder, and mutual funds (Sprott Canadian Equity and Manulife Global Advantage, and Lakeview Disciplined Leadership Canadian Equity).

The investor

Deb LaCourse began investing in her early twenties. "I'm pleased to say that my winners have outdone my losers," she reports.

"Some investors think you have to be right on all your stock picks," she adds. "But it can't be done. You just want to be ahead by a reasonable amount. That is what every investor should try for."

For Ms. LaCourse, being "ahead by a reasonable amount" doesn't necessarily mean shooting for the stars or trying to beat the market indexes.

"Individuals need to determine what their specific goals are and then figure out what they need to do to achieve those specific goals. If you only need to save 'x' dollars each year and get 'x' return on that, why are you comparing your progress to arbitrary market index returns - or your neighbour's performance, for that matter? Take only the risk you need to take to get where you need to be."

How she invests in the market

With her focus on not taking on any more risk than required, her stock market portfolio tends to be made up of large-cap stocks and diversified funds. As for picking individual stocks, she has an eclectic approach "and is not particularly in any school." However, she does admit to "leaning toward value investing."

Best move

"Holding my mortgage inside my RRSP. ... This gave me a great deal of peace of mind and allowed me to capture all the interest payments on the mortgage rather than the bank. People often forget that you pay almost as much in interest on a mortgage over the years as the principal amount of the mortgage. It creates a lot of wealth for yourself."

Worst move

"I owned shares in WorldCom [filed for bankruptcy in 2002] at absolutely the wrong time."

Advice

"Start early. With compounding, you don't have to put aside as much money.

"Stop trying to beat the indexes. I believe people often use the wrong measures to determine whether they are on track to get where they are going. Take just enough risk to get the return you need for your goals. Rule one is not to lose what you have."

Want to share your strategies?

E-mail mccolumn@yahoo.com

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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