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A Bizymoms' Exclusive Interview with Jason Kelly

1. How did your career the Editor of "Kelly Letter " begin? How does the Kelly Letter help others?

The letter started when my book readers asked for it. They liked the straightforward style in my books, especially the stock book, and complained that they couldn't find it in existing market publications. The need made itself clear!

The letter helps others by putting the constant cacophany of the market into a language that's understandable and even entertaining. It's Wall Street commentary with a heart, and that's pretty hard to find.

2. What inspired you to start writing and editing the "Kelly Letter"?

I noticed the same questions time and again from site visitors and readers, and thought that people don't retain everything they should from a book. They need constant reinforcement, and there's business value in that.

I looked at ways to keep the price low so that even people just starting to manage their own money would be able to afford it, and I was determined to avoid advertising. I looked into sending graphics or just plain text, and decided that simpler
was better.

What goes out each week is a plain text email that helps people put their money where it will profit from stock market gyrations. I look for bargains in the market the same way any mother looks for bargains at the grocery store. When something goes on sale at a 2-for-1 special, I load up.

The letter is just $5.48 per month and I never, ever put ads in it. People like that a lot.

3. You have worked as a technical writer at IBM and have a Bachelor of Arts in English. How did these help you in your present career?

Love of the language is helpful to any writer, and a degree in English encourages it. I love to read, think about what I read, and then explain to other people what I liked or didn't.

Then, at IBM, I had to take those language skills and make them laser focused on the message at hand. Technical writing cannot waste even one syllable because the audience is in search of an answer, not poetry.

I think the happy medium between those two is what helps me do my job well today. I get to the point with style, if I may say so!

4. How did you become an expert writer in "Investment and Finance?"

I read a lot of books, attended seminars, interviewed experts in the field, then began managing money for myself and my family, and repeated the above steps with more knowledge under my belt. That real-world knowledge combined with further education rounded out the edges of what I needed to know.

As for my being an expert, I should honestly point out that I don't know many things that others don't know. There are lots of people better educated in finance than I. What I bring to the table is the ability to translate the basics into simple plans for everybody. That angers a lot of people in the business because they make money when people think financial management is too hard, and therefore pay somebody else to do it for them.

Now that I've been writing and speaking about finance for so long, the track record has become my resume. In the beginning of this journey, however, I had just the desire to learn.

5. What is the most difficult challenge of your career?

Staying focused on what matters. It's easy to get good ideas that are off the map of where my heart lies and what I really want to do with my life.

A close circle of people I love and like helps in this regard. I use them as a sounding board for the latest harebrained plan of mine, and they respond honestly about whether that seems like me or not. They're not always right, but their view helps.

For example, I was asked to manage money in a way that would have turned me into an institutional money manager, a guy in a Benz who goes to the office every day to watch stock charts and decide what to buy and sell.

I love investing and the money paid would have been great, but that wasn't me. I'm the guy outside the office who shows people how to take care of their money without paying the guy in the skyscraper office. Friends told me that, and they were right.

6. Why do you think people should consider investments as a way to build wealth?

Because it's the smartest thing to do with your extra business capital after you've taken care of expenses. Money in a bank is useless.

Business people are really just asset allocators, figuring out where to put capital for maximum return. Should we spend more on marketing? Will better packaging result in enough additional sales to more than offset the higher price? These are decisions that business owners make every day.

It makes sense, then, for them to make similar decisions with the money they amass. How much should go into stocks? How much into bonds? What kinds of stocks? Does this company's plan make sense to me? If so, maybe I should own some of its stock to share in profits via dividends and the growth of the share price.

Done well enough, investing can eventually create more wealth than the business that produced the initial capital. Money begets money -- if it's invested intelligently.

7. What is the best time for investments in terms of market & environmenta
l factors?

The best time to invest in any market is usually when the most people say it's too dangerous. For instance, many people think that financial stocks and the housing market are disastrous here in summer 2008, but smart investors have had their shopping lists ready for months ahead of time and began scooping up bargains at the lows in March and are continuing to do so now.

Will there be volatility? Sure, that's the nature of markets. But history proves that money invested in recessions and other bad times grows handsomely.

8. Can you share a few investment guidelines and tips that would help our
Bizymoms?

The most basic is to buy what you know. Moms are great at seeing consumer trends. What are people eating, wearing, talking about? Mom's have their fingers on the pulse of the economy, and that has value in the stock market.

Such information led me to buy things like shares of Starbucks and Crocs when their stocks were priced for disaster but their businesses were alive and well with the public.

Another good tip is to start with small amounts of money and use it in groups of stocks instead of individual stocks. Groups of stocks are available in mutual funds and exchanged-traded funds, and they are safer than individual stocks. They're a great way to start (and many people keep using them forever) because they soften the blow of mistakes, but still fluctuate and appreciate enough to teach valuable lessons for later when more money is at stake.

Learn with small amounts of money, not big.

9. Can you share some of the unforgettable experiences you have come across in investment & finance?

The most unforgettable was the first year that my investment income exceeded my business income. "Wow!" I thought, "this is Easy Street." Then came the dot com bubble burst where the Nasdaq lost 80% of its value. So much for Easy Street.

Investing is a tough business, but a worthwhile one because it's the very definition of making your money work for you. People who are just customers and employees never get ahead. People who are owners do best in the world. The stock market enables anybody to be an owner of successful businesses, without ever attending a board meeting or showing up on Monday.

10. What are your future goals?

To continue growing the readership of The Kelly Letter and my books, to think of new kinds of books to better show the life of an investor, to succeed with books entirely outside the realm of finance, and to showcase my personality on radio and/or TV.

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