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MARGIT CROWELL

42, systems analyst, Spring Hill

How did you get started in investing?

When I got my first real job out of grad school, back in 1987, we had an option there for retirement. I chose a deferred compensation option.

What is your best investment so far?

A couple of mutual funds in the early '90s. Also a partners fund. Did quite well on those.

What is your worst investment so far?

Definitely Lucent Technologies. I bought high and sold low. I did exactly what you're not supposed to do.

What have you learned about investing that you think all investors should know?

Start as early as possible because time is on your side. I tell that to young co-workers _ even $10 a week. Make it automatic; pay yourself first.

How would you describe your approach to investing?

At this point, I'm a moderate investor, but I do tend to look at slightly more aggressive options. I'm willing to take a little more risk now than when I was younger. I have fewer years left. I don't want to be too aggressive . . . but you do have to be willing to take a little bit of risk to get a good return.

How are you invested now?

Seventy-five percent stock and about 25 percent bonds, not including my home, which is probably my best performing investment.

What do you find the most difficult about investing?

Trying to time the market. The uncertainty of not knowing what tomorrow brings. The whole investment scenario is based on past results and what you know today. That can be a little unsettling.

What changes, if any, have you made in your investments in the past year?

None, really. I'm trying to set aside a little bit more next year in deferred compensation.

Do you think now is a good to invest?

Yes, pretty much any time is. You just have to do research. I do all my own research.

What is your goal for your investing?

Not to outlive my money in retirement. I hope to have a long and healthy (retirement) and hopefully an early one.

What is your biggest money concern right now?

Right now, I have a 5-year-old. I want to be able to take some trips with her and be as debt-free as possible. My biggest concern is paying off the home equity debt.

Where do you get your investment tips?

I subscribe to Money magazine. I also check out some sites on the Internet once in a while _ Motley Fool or CNNMoney. I have friends, and we discuss it a lot and pass books back and forth.

_ FRED W. WRIGHT JR., Times correspondent

_ The Times Money Panel is composed of more than 500 readers who have signed up to share their opinions on making, saving and spending money.

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