I credit my father with sparking my interest in investing. He was a physicist who was fascinated by the movements of the stock market and spent endless hours creating detailed graphs of daily movements in the markets. But he was also a deeply conservative man, financially speaking, so he put his money in conservative mutual funds and money market funds. In the early 90s, he counseled me to start out investing with a money market fund, which I did, but quickly found very boring. Because he was from North Carolina, I next started investing $25/month in Duke Power (now Duke Energy). Then I added Janus Twenty Fund, as I was a silly young woman who used handsomeness of the fund manager (Tom Marsico) as an investing criterion. Still have it! Along the way I had made a disastrous marriage (girls, a tip: when you go to get the marriage license, if, under "occupation," he puts down "poet," just LEAVE). Then came divorce, then living in a mobile home park with my infant son. I never lost my interest in investing, and I also rarely sold any investment. I was frivolous and even reckless in many aspects of my life, yet I at some point I seem to have made the decision that I would follow "buy and hold," probably my father's influence, and so I have. After taking a 10-year scenic route to completing my college degree, I buckled down and worked hard at a decent full-time job, though in a low-paying industry, and did freelance work on the side, so that I could contribute to my company's 401(k) (the poet wasn't so wild about mundane concepts like "child support"). I read Charles Colson's book on direct stock investing. From this I concluded that although this country has a lot of flaws, it is still a place where someone with only a little money can actively participate in building wealth--if they will just make that choice. For my 35th birthday I asked my father to give me one share of Exxon, so I could join the stock purchase program, and of course he did, and I did. I was not and am not frugal by nature, but what has saved me is that to me, investing has always felt like a delightful form of shopping, even indulgence, so I would always write a tiny check to a stock or mutual fund every two weeks when I got my check before I paid those boring bills. I am now in my 50s and have moved back to my hometown and bought a modest house. I quit my full-time job and currently work as a freelance proofreader and editor. My stocks in taxable accounts, built up over the years in direct purchase plans, are mostly the beloved blue-chip stalwarts. I have my rollover IRA from my 401(k)...I let Schwab manage it a few years, but this year I took it over myself. In this IRA I'm expanding in interesting ways and finding what I think are excellent companies, and many of these I'm learning about through Seeking Alpha. I love SA for the mix of ages and investing experience it presents. I am here to learn. I'm a believer in dividend growth investing; I do also like to add a touch of fun with the occasional IPO; and I'm a fan of Apple (not rabid, just like it and think it's got legs). Regarding retirement saving, I am still probably woefully behind where a person of my age "should" be, yet I feel a sense of joy and confidence when I think of my investments. If you are still reading this novella, I will leave you with a quote from John Quincy Adams, which I've put at the top of the new spreadsheet I've created to track my adventures with managing my IRA on my own. I hope you will take this quote to heart. "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."