Two of the greatest things known to man. Both can bring you pleasure as well as pain if you let your emotions get the best of you. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t know much about women, but I do know a thing or two about stocks. And one thing we can all relate on is saving for retirement.
Now, I have some good friends who are financial advisors. They can serve a pivotal role in helping you retire on a yacht instead of a box. But just like any business, they need to make money. Some people like the security that a financial advisor brings them, knowing that someone is carefully watching their money. And hence are willing to pay for that security blanket. But why did so many Americans’ nest eggs disappear during the last stock market crash if a “qualified professional” was watching their money? If I’m paying someone to manage my money, I better not see my wealth get cut in half, regardless of what the market did. Put me all in cash if you think the stock market is going to crash, or if growth prospects are weak. How many financial advisors did this? My guess would be just a few, and the ones who did were late to the game and then sacrificed considerable upside for their clients after the bottom in March 2009.
But let’s all take a step back and think about investing for a second, and not worry about our financial advisor. We’re all told to diversify across asset classes (stocks, bonds, alternatives, etc.), and then diversify within those asset classes. Then there’s a rule where you take 110 minus your age, and that should be your portfolio allocation to stocks (in my case 85% in “stocks”). Both are pretty simple rules that even your financial advisor follows (for the most part).
What am I getting at with this mini lecture? Do yourself a favor and don’t be afraid to start taking control of your own financial future. The tools are becoming more abundant and more user-friendly in order for you to do so without have a finance degree or knowing what a stock is. Two great websites that I personally use to track all of my investments are: http://www.sigfig.com and http://www.personalcapital.com . Think of each as a Mint.com for your investments. Below is a screenshot of the types of advice they give you. Turns out the mutual funds that my financial advisor put me in not only suck compared to other similar ones, but also cost me more in fees. I’ll either be putting my money in stocks (where he will only make a commission from my trade) or into low-cost ETF’s that do the same thing. More on mutual funds and ETF’s later. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
So cruise to those sites and start getting some free help on your finances. Speaking of free help, below is a list of stocks that I currently own. Some I’ve held for less than a month, others I’ve held since 2006. As we all should know, individual stocks are much riskier than mutual funds/ETFs. And these are only my opinions.
The ones with the asterisks are the ones I hold in my Roth IRA and/or IRA accounts. This means I’m invested in these companies for the long haul. If you notice, not many of the stocks I own are in my IRA accounts (even though I just said roughly 85% of my portfolio should be stocks). We’ll talk about this in a later post and that’s where low-cost mutual funds and ETF’s come in. Also by having your account setup on either of these two sites just mention, my next post make more sense.
– BRK.B – Berkshire Hathaway*
– YHOO – Yahoo!
– FDS – FactSet Inc.
– HTGC – Hercules Technology Growth Capital
– TCPC – TCP Capital
– JCI – Johnson Controls
– AAPL – Apple*
– V – Visa
– LUV – Southwest Airlines
– ADT – ADT Corp.
– YUM – Yum Brands
– DXM – Dex Media
– FB – Facebook (long story, don’t ask)
In a later post I’ll talk about the mutual funds/ETF’s and the differences in retirement accounts (Traditional/Roth 401k/IRA), but I’ll wait until you set up an account at one of those two sites.
If you’re truly interested in buying stocks, another cool tool that just came out is called TipRanks (www.tipranks.com). This tool brings you all of the analyst opinions on the stock you are interested in, if you care what the “experts” have to say. If you go to the site, you’ll be able to download a plug-in (I use a Chrome browser). Then go to a site like Google Finance, type in your ticker, and if you’ve installed it properly, a link should appear to these expert opinions.