Oh, this is great to see how folks arrived at this point.
I worked with my grandfather (b. 1899), and he was a real hero to me. He had what he called his "cheat sheet." Weekly, he would record prices of his stocks. This was the basis for a lot of all that he liked to speak about with me. He would hand me the annual reports after he was done. He would tell me stories about his early days of investing, and how during the depression the companies would often pay their dividends in kind, for instance, you would get a bunch of cigarettes if you owned a tobacco company.
When he passed away, we learned that his "cheat sheet" represented one share of this, one share of that .... He did not leave my grandmother well off. The business that he built with his son went to his son, with no buyout.
His daughter, my mother, taught me everything not to do with money. It seemed to simply slip through her fingers. I had a savings account as a kid; for me, it held a fortune. My mother held that passbook because she was afraid I would misplace it. At some point, wanting a bicycle or something, I asked for the money, and the reply was, "what money." A good lesson, perhaps, learned with great difficulty.
My father, on the other hand, taught me how to try to hold onto money. He understood some of the difficulties being married to a spendthrift. Almost all of their arguments touched somehow on money and spending.
He used to laugh at some of my schemes, but he felt that equities were not the best way to accumulate wealth. With seven kids though, there wasn't much wealth to accumulate, but he did leave behind a home and life insurance to care for my mother. It was rough, at times, trying to keep her from squandering it.
I was lucky to marry a woman who both understood the value of savings, of being frugal, but also, not being cheap at the expense of others. She gave me some leeway as we sought to build up retirement savings. We too used Sylvia Porter to try to learn more about personal finance. She was a Federal worker, and we packed away cash in the TSP. She died before a survivor could retain funds in the TSP.
In shopping for a place to park those funds, with similar benefits, I decided on Vanguard. By then, I had learned, indexing was the way to protect the larger portion of individual wealth, following along with being happy with the philosophy of having more than 1/2 of investors in terms of return, because you could be happy with having less than 1/2 - but all the time.
I had earlier learned at one point of "no load funds" and was happy to keep an eye on them, but of course, I had yet to learn about "low fee low annual expense" funds. I wish someone had pointed me earlier to John Bogle's design for a mutual fund that was basically a not for profit, returning so much to the shareholders.
What has happened over the last several years has reminded me of the period during the late 70's when interest rates on the new money market funds were getting really crazy, regularly topping 20%. We would eat lunch at a place that advertised a lunch of a WIN burger (whip inflation now). I can see President Ford eating one of those still! At the same time, I saw pictures of bank advertisements where banks were paying 3 or 4% for day of deposit-day of withdrawal accounts. If only we saw those now!
Of the seven kids, I'd say that 3 learned at my father's knee, and four in my mother's kitchen (she loved TV dinners).
There is still another lesson to be gained from this - the whacky (and artificially surpressed) rates of today will change, and flexibility will be the word of the day in terms of readiness. There still seems to be a penchant to greed, to trying to always invest in the funds out-earning all others, etc, or still, picking those next great Microsoft, or Intel, or Apple ... and nobody ever remembers the ones that took a dive during the bursting of the bubble surrounding the dot com's