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40, telecommunications, St. Petersburg

Q. How did you get started in investing?

A couple of months after I got my first job in 1985, some friends and I decided to invest in our first systematic monthly mutual fund.

Q. What is your best investment so far?

My waterfront home. The biggest other investment is in American Century mutual funds.

Q. What is your worst investment so far?

In my 401(k), I held some international funds. I've been turned off by international investments as a result because of the risk and volatility of foreign markets.

Q. What have you learned about investing that you think other investors should know?

A lot of my friends in the late '90s were buying and selling individual stocks, a lot of them online, and for a short while I was kicking myself for not doing that. But all those gains they earned disappeared as quickly as they appeared.

Q. How are you invested now?

Probably 60 to 70 percent in domestic large-cap growth funds, with 20 to 30 percent in real estate and the balance in a combination small and mid-cap and small amounts in bond funds with our 401(k)s.

Q. What changes, if any, have you made in your investment strategy in the past year?

I just got out of that first investment in 1986 only because fees and loads really started bothering me compared to gains I'm getting. I've dumped all of my individual company stock just this month. I want to be less weighted in telecommunications stock.

Q. What is your goal for your investments?

I have a target dollar amount that I want to have by the time I'm 56 to 58, and that's what I'm shooting for _ basically enough for my wife and me to retire in our mid to late 50s.

Q. Where do you get your investing advice?

Primarily, research on the Web and the local newspaper.

_ FRED W. WRIGHT JR., Times correspondent