Marcelle Hobbs
By Joan Caplin

(MONEY Magazine) – OCCUPATION: Realtor

RESIDENCE: Orlando, Fla.

BOTTOM LINE: Total assets, $800,000. Hobbs, 50, has half of her investments in commercial and residential property, half in stocks. She also contributes $2,000 annually to a 10-year-old IRA (in stocks and two international funds).

FIRST STEPS: In 1966, Hobbs won a high school stock-picking competition with a single choice: Learjet. In 1979 her full-time job was raising two boys, but she was convinced that she could make money in the market. With a $5,000 blessing from her husband, Hobbs bought Ametek. She almost doubled her stake in a year and sold. Hobbs became an active trader, selling as soon as she realized a 20% return.

TURNING POINT: After a year, she tallied how much she'd spent on brokers' commissions. The result: an instantaneous conversion to long-term investing. "Once a year everyone should review how well they would have done if they were still holding on to a stock. It's an eye-opener."

--JOAN CAPLIN