Category Archives: SG Investment Philosophy

Best of StockGuilt: Ten Resonable Reasons Not to Feel Guilty About Making Money

Hello, my name is Jon, and I have guilt. I have guilt about things I do. I have guilt about things I fail to do. I have guilt about things I think, feel and see. I have guilt about crap I don’t even have control over.

But this article is not about parenting, cholesterol intake, or the dog poop in the back yard, it’s about investing in the stock market. We, here at StockGuilt feel that making money is a good thing, but we also feel guilty about it.

So we have bantered around our round table in the office command center, and come up with our top 10 list of reasons that we feel that making money is a good thing. We all acknowledge that this is a futile defense mechanism  and most likely we are just spoiled rotten, fat, heartless and horrible people because other people don’t have what we have, and everyone (ironically mostly beautiful and rich people) tell us that we should be guilty about it.

10) “Money is neither my god nor my devil. It is a form of energy that tends to make us more of who we already are, whether it’s greedy or loving.”

Dan Millman, Author of ‘Way of the Peaceful Warrior’

9) We should raise everyone up! We should stop thinking about those that have, and how much they have, and think more about those who don’t. Everyone should be rich.

8) We are good people! If we truly believe people with the money right now are doing a crappy job with the world they own, we should try to take the power out of their hands.

7) If we were rich, how much good could we do? I know my personal dream is to start a free university, open to all people …

6) You could inspire others. What if you could empower a child from a lower socioeconomic level to prosper? How much despair could that avoid, for herself or her friends?

5) Think about the elderly, struggling to live. Would you wish that on others, just because society says it’s not alright to be economically strong? Then why would you wish it on yourself?

4) Your children.

3) You don’t have to keep it. If you had a million dollars, you could change someones life. You could change 10 someones lives …

2) The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They are the second biggest single contributor for grants for public health and education in the United States, after the United States Government! 

1) Sir Richard Branson: This.

Advertisements

The Worst “Assets” You Can Buy

Read this article on what not to invest in. Should be called Investing Myth Busting.

The Small Investor

Growing wealthy is all about buying assets.  Assets are things that pay you money, such that you can increase your earnings by purchasing them.  Get enough assets in your portfolio and they can replace your paycheck so you can retire early (or allow you to keep working and make twice as much).

But many people mistake liabilities – things that cost money – for assets.  They think they are investing their money when really they are spending it.  Here are the top seven liabilities disguised as assets, from the best to the worst:

8.  A big house.

The old adage goes that “Your home will be the biggest investment you ever make.”  We are told (by broke people) that we should buy all of the home we can afford, taking out the biggest loan we can get.  A big home, however, has big costs for heating and air conditioning, lawn and yard…

View original post 1,044 more words

How to turn one dollar into a million (an economic animal story for children).

So, as a kind of apology for posting a picture of a naked woman on the site last week, we decided to write a children’s story.

That’s the way we roll. Like a WalMart cart, all Wibble-wobbly and covered in grease from being handled by weirdos wearing stretchy pants and slippers.

To facilitate, we enlisted the help of Charlie, a six year old kindergarten student. She will give us the nouns of our story. Enjoy!

P.s., We acknowledge that the geography and biology of this story are not accurate. If you are the type of person that was bothered by something like that, while reading a story about anthropomorphized talking animals, we are probably not going to please you anyway.

Poopa and Bucky, in the forest.

“Poopa and Bucky, in the forest.” Drawing by Sophie (8 y/o)

There was once a little boy Giraffe named Poopathon (its a family name). He lived in the jungle. One day, Poopa was picking succulent leaves from a tall tree, when he heard a gorilla breathing. Normally this is a very bad thing, as gorillas like to use giraffes as play equipment. In fact, Poopa’s great grandfather James Poopathon is where we get the name “Jungle Jim”. This is great fun for gorillas, but usually leaves the giraffe with a headache and a queasy stomach, which now that I think about it, may be where the family name came from. Regardless, little Poopa was beginning to run when the gorilla called, “Wait!”

Usually this was a trap, and Poopa wasn’t going to be fooled. But this was Bucky the nerd gorilla, and Poopa had never been used as a monkey bar by him. In fact, Bucky always seemed kind of sad when the others got a hold of a giraffe. So, Poopa stopped to listen, if, at a safe distance.

“Thank you,” Bucky began, pushing up his grass-rim glasses and adjusting his rainbow feather and vine suspenders. “All of the other gorillas hate me.” He held up a hand to forestall protest from Poopathon, but Poopa only nodded. In people that is a subtle acknowledgement, but for a giraffe, it is about as subtle as underwear made out of a thornbush. You will know about it, and it will not be comfortable.

Thank goodness for gorilla autism, as Bucky didn’t even notice.

“I have been doing some monkeying with some numbers …” said the Gorilla.

Poopa whistled in awe. He said, “I don’t even understand slothing with numbers, let alone an animal that moves as fast as a monkey!”

“I’m really smart”, the Gorilla agreed, “But, you would have gotten that sooner, if your brain was closer to your heart … and right now you are beginning to understand why the others don’t like me very much. ”

Poopa was still a little scared, but was now also annoyed, “I understood as soon as I saw your suspenders,” he said.

“Right, well, I see.” Bucky said. “They are holding up my fur pants”.

Poopa nodded.

This time Bucky noticed, “Ouch! It’s that obvious?”

Poopa nodded again.

“Ouch! Stop! I get it,” Bucky said, rubbing his butt, “I suffer from Gorilla pattern baldness. It’s pretty embarrassing …”

Poopa burst into laughter.

“Oh, I see … em-bare-assing. Very funny. A pun.” He pulled out a pad of leaf paper and scratched a note, “I keep a list of things that make others laugh, to try to incorporate into interpersonal communications with my peers.” He filipped a few leafs, “Like this one: I once found a hyena foot in a hot tub. A lion had put a piranha in there as a joke. But the hyena didn’t laugh.”

Poopa laughed even harder.

Bucky shook his head, “I don’t even know why that is funny. … But it works every time.” He flipped a leaf. “Try this one: What do you call a Gorilla with gorilla pattern baldness? A baboon.” He looked at Poopa, who was beginning to calm down. “Interesting. I guess that is more of a gorilla-centric joke.”

Poopa rubbed the tears from his eyes on a leaf. “Oh, oh! That was the best laugh I’ve had since Geoffrey tried to sneak into that toy store down in Cape Town!”

“Yes. I heard about that. You’re tale is infamous. That is why I am here, actually.”

Poopa was confused by this statement, “You want to hot-wire a safari van?”

Bucky slapped his hands on the ground, “No, no! I want over ripe fruit. I know you have access to it. You Giraffe’s are like the frat boys of the jungle.”

Poopa nodded his head.

“Wow, when you agree, I can really feel it!”

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Poopa agreed, “So you should probably only say things I like.”

Bucky scratched a note. When he was done he looked up, “So. I have figured out something, I think. Since we Gorillas don’t have any goods  that we can use to entice you to simply give us fruit for this so called ‘jungle juice’, I will simply give you a leaf.”

Poopa laughed again, “A leaf! That’s rediculous! Look around, there are leaves everywhere! What good would another leaf do me?”

Bucky scratched his bald butt absently, “Yes, yes. I am well aware of the preponderance of foliage in the jungle. In fact, I am sure that is the reason it is called a jungle.”

Poopa rolled his eyes.

“Right. Sorry, I get distracted. As I was saying, this leaf is special. I have scratched in the language of doctors, the ancient Hen Chicken language, on this leaf that the person that holds this leaf is entitled to one favor from anyone he hands it to. So, if I give it to you, you will do me a favor. When you hand it to someone else, they will have to do a favor for you.”

Poopa straightened his neck, “Like, when the gorillas try to use me as play equipment, I can give them this leaf and they will leave me alone?”

Bucky nodded and then pushed up his glasses, “Yes, of course. We are all in agreement on this. All Gorillas will honor this leaf with one favor whenever  it is presented.”

Poopa thought about it for a second. This may or may not work, he thought, but it will not cost me more than a few minutes of my time. If it does work, though, I won’t have to worry about having a headache every Saturday morning, and I can go do helicopter pilot training!

He said, “Then, I agree. I will get you your smelly fruit, and you will give me that leaf.”

They shook hands/hooves.

Very soon after, a group of Gorillas jumped on Poopa. He immediately produced the leaf and handed it to the biggest Gorilla, who took it and then disappeared deep into the jungle with the others Gorillas. Later that night, a small Gorilla came to Poopa,  handed him the leaf and pointed at a tree with over-ripe mangos. Poopa wondered how the small Gorilla had received the leaf.

But then he was distracted by the ripe mangoes and forgot all about this thought until one day after many leaf give and take, Bucky came back with the leaf.

“They need some more mangoes,” he said, and handed the leaf to Poopa.

“How did you get the leaf? I always give to the biggest Gorilla, and now you have it.”

Bucky stared blankly at Poopa for a second, and then appeared to pop out of a trance, “Oh, I did him a favor, and he gave it to me.”

“But, I thought it could only be passed between Gorillas and me.”

“Well, I suppose that was implied, but it was set up in such a way that any Gorilla could take the leaf as payment, and we all understood that whoever had the leaf could get mangoes from you. So, we started doing favors for each other to get the leaf.”

Poopa was thinking. There was a Giraffe that he had seen with a really nice (and large) scarf, that would look lovely on Poopa’s neck when his was piloting a biplane. (He had seen the errors of his previous goal of piloting a helicopter). “Do you think that a Giraffe would take this?”

Bucky got that blank look again, and finally blinked. He began talking all in a burst, as was his custom. “Well, I know of at least one Giraffe that took it. I can not see any reason others would not.”

“But, it sounds so silly. A magic leaf that grants wishes.”

“It is not magic, but an agreement.” Bucky said, “I do something for you, and you do something for me. But, with the leaf, it doesn’t have to be at the same time. It’s a promise that the favor will be returned. It’s like a battery for favors.”

“A what?” Asked Poopa.

“A small metal contraption that holds differences in ions in a stasis until utilized by a contraption that can transmogrify the electromagnetic energy into mechanical energy.” Bucky said, while simultaneously pushing up his glasses with one paw, and scratching his bald butt with the other.

“A what?” Poopa repeated.

“Never mind.” Bucky said, “I’ll go with you to explain it to him.”

“OK,” Poopa said excitedly.

“After you get me those mangoes, if you please.”

“Oh, right!” He said, “How’s that going for you, by the way. You making any friends with your fellow Gorillas?”

Bucky shook his head, “No, unfortunately. They are all too interested in games and food to want to do serious research, but a least being able to give them mangoes has bought me a modicum of space and quiet for my experiments.” He scratched his head. “Curious. Now that I think about it, the Gorillas have been a lot more helpful and nice to me, even when I don’t have the leaf. Hmmm.”

Poopa didn’t understand half of what Bucky was talking about, but nodded his head anyway.

“Oh, thanks for the vote of confidence.” Bucky said, surprised. Poopa even saw a hint of a smile. That’s not what Poopa had intended, but it was his philosophy that any mistake that made someone feel good, he would just pretend that it was intentional, because if he had stopped to think about it, that’s what he would have wanted to do anyway. So, he nodded again.

Bucky said, “Oh, that feels so good!”

And off they walked through the jungle.

Years later, after thousands of exchanges between the Gorillas and the Giraffes, and many more between Giraffe and Giraffe and Gorilla and Gorilla, Bucky and Poopa came together again.

“Hello Poopa,” Bucky said.

“Hello Bucky,” Poopa replied, “I have the leaf.”

“Keep it. I’ll do you a favor without the leaf.”

Poopa was surprised, “Really? Why?”

Bucky pushed up his glasses, “It has become increasingly clear that your idea of passing the leaf to others has been a catalyst for peace between our species. And I want to thank you.”

“Oh!” Poopa said, blinking in surprise, “Well, ok! Thank you too!”

“You are welcome.” Bucky said matter-of-factly. There was a few moments where Bucky just stared at Poopa, and the moment became awkward.

“Uh, OK!” Poopa said.

“Yes. Sorry. I was thinking. Have you tried giving it to a lion?” Bucky asked, scratching his backside.

“What?! No! Why would I ever go near a lion? That would be crazy!” Poopa realized he was actually crouched, ready to bolt, as if a lion were really there. Self consciously he stood straighter, but couldn’t fight the urge to look around.

“Mmm … Give me the leaf.” Bucky said.

Poopa stopped looking into the shadows. “But, you just gave it to me.” Poopa said.

Bucky nodded, “I have rethought that decision, and have concluded that it would be better if I were to take it.”

“Oh,” said Poopa, disappointed, “Ok. Here.” He handed Bucky the leaf.

“I will go talk to the Lion for you.” Bucky said, and then turned around walked back into the jungle.

Several days went by when Bucky was not seen, and Poopa became worried about him. Soon he returned, and appeared to be unharmed. He was holding the leaf.

“They wouldn’t take it?” Poopa asked when he saw the leaf.

“Oh, no. Quite the opposite in fact. They took it, and made the promise not to hunt any Giraffe for one month, if you do them a favor in return. Hence the leaf.”

Poopa was suspicious, “What do they want me to do?”

Bucky nodded, “Nothing violent, I assure you. I told them you would not help them hurt another animal. They want you to be a look out. For the Safari Truck.”

Poopa laughed, “Really? I can totally do that! What do I do if I see them.”

“Just shout,” Bucky replied.

“What if they don’t hear me,” Poopa said.

“They will, I assure you.” Bucky said, and pointed to the shadows. There, a Lioness stood.

Poopa swallowed, but managed to croak out, “Ok, I will.”

The Lioness nodded and left the clearing.

After a few minutes, Poopa spoke, “This is incredible! Do you realize what you have done? We can go back on the planes again! We can run anywhere without worrying about tripping on a vine or smacking into a tree without getting eaten!”

Bucky just nodded.

“We won’t have to be eaten anymore!” Shouted Poopa, and began to cry. “Its such a relief!”

Bucky nodded again, and reached into his pants. He retrieved a large yellow leaf. On it was the Hen scratchings he recognized, but also a picture of a Lion and a Giraffe standing side by side, each looking behind the other. Keeping each other safe.

“It’s beautiful!” The Giraffe said.

“You can use it exclusively for the Lions, if you wish.” Bucky said. He handed the leaf to Poopa took the green leaf in exchange. and put it into his pocket.

“And we can keep the green leaf for Giraffes and Gorillas,” Poopa agreed, nodding.

“No,” Bucky said, almost sadly. He took out the green leaf and showed it to Poopa. It was worn and tattered, and had holes in several places. “It’s too old to use anymore. I estimate we have used this leaf a million times.” He smiled his small little smile, and then tore the leaf in half.

Poopa was horrified, “No,” he cried, “What are you doing!? That is the most important thing in the jungle!”

Bucky handed one half of the leaf to Poopa, keeping the other for himself. “No, it’s not. Friendships are the most important thing in the jungle. Friends that will help you achieve your dreams. Friends that you can help achieve theirs. This was just a tool for letting us realize that.”

Poopa nodded, feeling like this time he had understood what his smart friend was saying.

Bucky smiled, “Besides,” He said, pointing to the jungle all around them, “There are leaves everywhere.” And then he laughed.

 

 

 

 

Twist your brain around supporting evil for the good of humanity. Or not.

"Smoking is cool, and everybody knows it." --Chandler Bing (Friends)

“Smoking is cool, and everybody knows it.” –Chandler Bing (Friends)

So the idea of this blog is to talk about how to make a sustainable nest egg for safety and retirement, without (too much) guilt.

So, why are we here, we who have a list of rules (one of which is “Don’t buy defense contractor and tobacco stocks”) going to make the argument that we should buy tobacco stocks?

Well, lets think about it … money? Yeah, sure, of course. I mean, why invest in stocks if you aren’t going to make money. But, we here always have a secondary objective: Doing good, or, at least not doing (too) bad.

We have morals! We have ideals! And where we may not always live up to the ideals, we at least feel bad when we don’t abide by them. So, we don’t support companies that make things that purposefully kill, exploit or support killing or supporting … even when we don’t know what that means. [Does buying stock in alternative energy from a company that supplies energy to a factory that makes bombs that are used to shell civilians 6000 miles away constitute supporting building and dropping bombs? And if so, or not, does simply paying taxes support that too, thus making the whole thing moot?]

Certainly there are shades of gray  to buying any stock. In a gray fog, while wearing sunglasses.  At night. Underground.  With the Beatles playing (cause it sounds like a psychedelic party!)

So, let’s just set up a set of rules. Actually, 2 cop outs, and 2 rules. No, well, making money is one of the rules, so 3 rules. But, 2 besides that.

Forget it. Lets just focus on the rules:

1) (cop out) Business sucks. But it’s the best thing we have ever found to channel the selfish human heart into constructive gains. Businesses employ people, who support families. They pay (lots) of taxes (or, their employees pay lots of taxes, either way, the government gets more so they are happy). Generally, they pay for everything and move money around. They are the heart of the world. (Roads are arteries and veins. Money is blood. People are cells. Dogs are leukocytes. Food is, well, food. Movie stars are the moles and freckles. Manteca, Ca., is the anus, Etc.)

2) (cop out) In planes with sudden loss of pressure, parents are told to put on their masks first, get some oxygen, and then take care of their children. Like that, we need to take care of our bottom line, so we can continue to fight the good fight. (BTW, this is good justification for taking an evening off from your kids. And just may be true, also.)

3) Avoid bad (self explanatory, but hard to define)

4) But above all, support good.

So, what does this all mean. It is sound and fury signifying nothing, but we’re calling it our “Guiding principals”. (Hey, we want at least the illusion of doing good. It’s working just so long as we believe it, right? ‘Cause, lets be honest, just being alive and breathing is f***ing things up, and it just gets worse from there.)

So, cigarettes kill people. Don’t support that. But, as an alternative, e-cigarettes have lower the risk of cancer and lung disease. So support that.

But, doesn’t supporting e-cigarettes support the tobacco industry?

Yes, it does. So, how can we invest in this? I mean, we are hooking people on nicotine, either way, right? Er … yes.

But, lets look at our algorithm here (you just learned a fancy word for recipe):

Rules one and two: Check!

Rules four: Check!

Rule three:<buzzer sound> Not so much.

But, FIGHTING the big EVIL corporations can be done by methods other than destroying them, but by redirecting their evil ambition towards less evil, but more profitable business ventures. If we are supporting something bad, but steering it towards something good, then we’re doing good, right? Like Michael Corleone in the Godfather, trying to go legit. Or, like an undercover drug operative. Or like James Bond!

No matter how you spin it to yourself, the truth is, is that if the stock price goes up (more people are buying it) then the more tobacco companies will pay more attention to e-cigs. This will decrease the production of regular cigarettes, which, lets face it, stink.

Or, maybe we are just trying to talk ourselves into something stupid.

Look at the stock: Victory Electronic Cigarette Incorporated (OTCBB [Over the Counter Bulletin Board]: ECIG) (These wacky stock brokers! HA HA HA).

It is all over the place, highly volatile. The FDA is cracking down (not really, but hey, when the Wall Street Journal hypes something …) the prices are just going to plummet.

But, as you know, we advocate buying things when they get bad press. And we believe this industry will grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years. And this company is just starting out …

Could it be the next Starbucks? The next Netflix?

Probably not, but, heck, it’s stocks. 99% of new companies fail.

Bottom line: It may not hurt you to invest a small portion of your portfolio on this, like say, $1000. Or, it may cost you $1000 and your soul. We aren’t quite sure.

 

NOTE: StockGuilt is a blog about interesting stocks, and our views. We are not stock brokers, investment councilors, planners or legal advisers. In fact, at least one of us is an idiot. The rest are just folks who think about investments. This is what we think, and what we will do/did. In no way are we telling your what to buy or sell … Do your own homework.

If it works out for you, and you feel generous, well, we’ll probably get in trouble if we take your money, so …  We like Ronald McDonald houseUnicefSalvation Army and SafeNest

 

 

 

Invest in fun s***, and tap dance on hard-work’s face.

hqdefault10-e1362955923196

Here is a secret: If you are having fun, you never have to work hard. Or, to put it another way, if you are having fun, working hard is not an ordeal — it can even be a rewarding, enjoyable way to spend your time.

This goes for:

  • Work, work: Work for yourself; work at Pixar; work doing what you love …
  • Exercise: Tramplines, sports (basket ball, soccer), paint ball, rock climbing .. .
  • Other boring, annoying, scary, tiresome, awful, painful and/or smelly stuff: E.g., Raising children.

Examples of hard work being fun:

  • Sex (although, I bet you had already figured this one out)
  • Showering (stop and think about how much work you do in there! I bet you never noticed, as it feels so nice).
  • Games/puzzles …
  • Misc. (i.e., punching a pillow, chewing gum or running from small woodland animals while drinking Boons Strawberry Hill with your friends in the woods).

One of the secrets in this life is to learn basic life-hacks, such as the example above, and creatively, (and actively) apply them to other areas of your life. So how do we apply this “fun can distract from annoying/tiring/painful work” theory to investments?

Here is a list of five things you can do to make investing fun:

1)  Invest with friends: Get a group of people together, pool your money, and buy lots of stocks. Advantages of this route include: diverse knowledge and fresh leads; lowered fees, due to buying in bulk, and splitting the costs; more brains working on the problem; rapid diversification; it can be an excuse to get together and have fun!

2) Invest with your kids: Have your kids help you invest, and teach them a valuable skill at the same time.

3) Play “fantasy investing” (i.e., paper trading or paper investing). Get a bunch of fantasy football addicts, ante up, and win a pot of money at the end of a set period — then use your research to invest for real …(also, all of your competitors are giving you their research for free! Suckers!). My infomercial: Stop wasting your time on Baseball, Basket Ball, Football, Soccer, or Hockey, which only take your money! Play a game that can make you REAL money! Just send me three easy payments of $19.95! Act now! Supplies are limited to the first 6 billion! 

4) Buy companies you love: Guitars, watches, motorcycles, helicopters,  Hollywood, cosmetics, fashion, theater, whatever turns you on! My wife watches Charlie Hunnam on Sons of Anarchy, and begged me to buy Harley (HOG). I love music, so I bought a stock of a company I had heard of, Avid (NYSE: AVID), which makes Protools, a software used by every professional musician in the world. There is also Porsche (OTN: POAHF), Virgin Media (NASDAQ: VMED) and TakeTwo Interactive Inc. (TTWO) which owns RockStar & 2K Games, two well known video game companies. Your imagination is your limit, from Barbie (MAT) to Dungeons & Dragons (HAS) to Phineas & Ferb (DIS) to parachutes to Mythbusters (Discovery Communications, NASDAQ: DISCA) to L’Oreal (NASDAQ: LRLCY).

5) Buy companies you hate (and get your money back!): Microsoft is a dirty thief. I am determined to get my money back (see article related to this: here).

Lies we have told you so far … (Quick tip)

As a follower, you have many benifits, such as not having to think. But, there are problems too.

As a follower, you have many benefits  such as not having to think. But, there are problems too.

For the past two months and eight articles, we have been preaching the same fundamental actions: Buy solid stocks, keep costs low, avoid brokers & administrators, hold your stocks long term and ignore stock news.

But as one of our genius friends always says, “There is an exception that makes the rule.” He must be a genius, because that axiom doesn’t make any sense to us.

Here is the exception: Read stock news, on losers — because the bigger the loss, the greater the potential recovery. So, every once and a while, Google something like, “Prices fall”, “Stock slips” or “investors are selling”, and note the names of companies on that list. Here are three current examples: Caterpillar; JCPenney; Apple;

However, don’t actually read the article! You are trying to get ideas on companies with a sale price, not over think it. Why this is true: here.

***

Bonus quick tip!

So, now your thinking, “These people are asking me to put my money into the least safe place I could put it! I’m going to lose all of my money!”

Well, maybe yes and maybe no. You want to be sure about your money? Put it in a savings account. That is as close to a sure thing as is possible in this life — too bad the sure thing is that it will lose ground on inflation.

We live in a world of volatility. The question is not if a company experiences volatility in it’s price/business, but, is this volatility based on real or perceived problems.  

There are a lot of reasons there can be a loss  in the price of a company: Pending legal action/outcomes, income loss, change in management, market loss, change in strategy/product/the color of the VPs tie, opinions, economic astrology, etc.

Where there are many reasons for a price loss, there are only two categories: Real and perceived.

Remember, the market is run by people that a) panic b) follow the panic-ers and c) people that take advantage of all the panic. The thought process of each of these people can be very, very complex, but the results in aggregate are fairly easy to understand: if there is bad news, the price goes down; if there is good news, the price goes up.

This is where you’re BS detector comes in, and a little common sense. Also, the slightest hint of research … but just a pinch! Just enough to answer this: Is the price low because the product sucks or because the press sucks?

NOTE: StockGuilt is a blog about interesting stocks, and our views. We are not stock brokers, investment councilors, planners or legal advisers. In fact, at least one of us is an idiot. The rest are just folks who think about investments. This is what we think, and what we will do/did. In no way are we telling your what to buy or sell … Do your own homework.

If it works out for you, and you feel generous, well, we’ll probably get in trouble if we take your money, so …  We like Ronald McDonald houseUnicefSalvation Army and SafeNest

10 easy steps to purchasing your stock. Now with TIPS and real cane sugar!

New Cell Pictures 173

Here are ten random steps and 12 random tips on investing. We have put them in chronological order, sort of.

10) Keep an eye out for companies to invest in. Create a list (can be done online on your personal investment account). TIP #1: Keep an eye out for companies every where … in the subway, on a plane, on a lunch break, at your doctors office. You should always be thinking, “Hey, I bet that company is doing well! I wonder  …” TIP #2: What is your specialty? Are you a plumber? Then you have specialized knowledge! Look for companies that you have “inside” information on. This works for all professions/educations/hobbies/obsessions. Take a look around, at the products you see everyday. I am positive there are some great bargains there for the buying!

9) Scrimp and save: I always tell myself, “1 dollar today, is $100 when I retire! Am I willing to spend $100 on a pen?” This is my mantra — especially when something catches my eye, and I get that jones for a little retail inebriation. TIP #3: Open up a new bank account (make sure they don’t charge a monthly fee!) or investment account and have a percentage of your wages transferred into it — this is your “business account”; use it for your investments. TIP#4: Either a) spend only cash [i.e., $100/week petty cash fund] or b) put a stop to all transfers/lending/overdrafts etc. on your checking account, and then put only a set amount of money in that account. A worse idea is to buy a pre-paid card to accomplish the same thing, but they charge you to buy it, and maintain it (example prepaid card; example gift card). TIP#5: Don’t spend change, ever! Take your change, put it in a piggy bank, and once every few months, deposit it into your “business account”.  We bet you’ll be surprised! 

8) Buy good value stocks (explanation) in bulk! So, we have found three companies we want to buy. We have $3000 dollars to invest. The math seems simple: $1000 for each, right? No.

The reason why not, is that you have to pay the fee’s three times! If you think of each fee as another partial share you can’t buy, then you can see that the lower the purchase amount, the greater the fee is, by percent: i.e., $8 is 8% of $100, but $8 is only 0.2% of $3000! TIP#6: While you wait for your money to accumulate to ~$3000 (or whatever), you can use the money to buy tax-free bonds (and if your really smart, you can ladder them [example]) (this also can be used as part of your cash reserve).

7) Buy stocks in sectors: In the economy there are different sectors (example). Your goal is to buy quality value stocks in each of these sectors (advisers tend to want to invest in them in percentages, based on the percentage they represent in the economy; i.e., if consumer goods makes up 15% of the economy, your stocks in that sector should represent %15 of your stock portfolio. We really don’t know if this is based on any science, or if it is just “common sense” [or simply a  historical anachronism]. Our thoughts are that buying solid value  and growth [definition] stocks in all sectors will be hard enough, and it will be sufficient). For more info, read this short article: here.

6) Diversify by never buying the same stock twice: Buy one company and hold it until you retire. Diversify by purchasing stocks in all sectors (first one stock in each) then, when you have all the sectors covered,  buy another company in the same sector. This will diversify your portfolio (why is this necessary?).  TIP #7: If you are going to sell a stock because you are not happy with it’s performance/management/policies etc., sell it and then transfer the money into your IRA. Why is this a good idea? Well, you don’t want to make too much money during the year, or your taxes will kill you, and since you can only put in $5500/yr, your limited in how much you can sell. Plus, it forces you to only sell a few stocks a year (or $11,000 for you and your spouse — who needs their own IRA!). It also makes sure you are investing the maximum into this great vehicle while simultaneously preventing you from spending it!

5) Buy using a “Market Order”: Did you know that companies charge more for a limit order or other ‘exotic’ orders? Since we are investing for the long term, a few cents wont make a big difference — so we at StockGuilt just buy and then go to the park with our kids. TIP #8: If a company is doing a terrible job, and you realize you have made a mistake, you can sell it at a loss and come out even if you also sell a stock that has made money in that same year (i.e., a loss of $500 and a gain of $500 makes your capital gains zero!). Always keep track of the bottom line, and be as close to no profit as possible for your taxes.

4) Give money! (A.k.a., Tip # 9)  This has nothing to do with purchasing stocks, but we feel it is important. If you are going to pay taxes, and let the government use your money to do stupid and/or horrid things, you are going to hate yourself. But, you have the option of spending your tax dollars on the right things! If you think the government should be spending more money on education, then that’s where you should put your money. Don’t think of it as charity, think of it as your duty as the head of a very, very small department of the federal government. You alone decide where that money should be allocated! Congrats on the promotion!

3) Go to the library and read a book: This is where you get expanded knowledge of investments. Keep away from books on stock investing, as this will make you over-think things and mess up the long term strategy that will work, if you just leave it alone!  TIP #10: Read non-fiction biographies for insights and inspiration on new companies, strategies, and a warm buzz of enthusiasm! It doesn’t matter who, what, where, when, or how, you will be inspired. TIP #11: Forget about your stocks! Just leave them be. Do not watch the “market news” or any of those investing shows, as this will just make you anxious. If you need inspiration, read it in  mutual fund prospectuses.

2) Read Discover magazine and Popular Science, etc. (A.k.a., TIP #12): This is the cutting edge of science, and we are constantly astonished by what we read in these magazines — and more importantly, about the companies that are making it happen.

1) Get some disparate friends (A.k.a., TIP #13): Not desperate friends, but disparate, diverse, weird. They will have insights into investments you would never think of. Buy them a drink, and let them blow your mind!

ROTH-IRA vs. Godzilla! (Quick Tip)

picture-016

If you are going to get into investing, the very first thing you should do is look into an IRA (look at the pros/cons of ROTH vs. traditional here).

Any online investment house can host your IRA, for free (well,  the account is free).

Why an IRA? Because it forces you to not spend what you save (or, at least gives you serious pause), while also giving you a tremendous tax advantage (while the money is within the IRA):

i.e., If you cue up all your big-gun dividend yielding stocks, and put them into your IRA, you don’t pay taxes on the dividends (whether or not you re-invest them: why this is important) … then you can buy non-dividend stocks* for your non-IRA investments and not pay taxes until you sell them [at which point you should have very little “income”, a.k.a., you’re retired, and won’t get taxed like a brain surgeon].

As one professional said, “Put your tax-adverse investments within your IRA, and put your tax-advantaged investments (e.g., US government bonds) outside of your IRA.”

Hustle! The faster you get your IRA up, the more you can contribute! Time is the main variable at work here!

110609-3

*Keep this in mind and be careful — in general companies that pay dividends do so because they are not reinvesting their money, whereas a company that is growing fast is probably not paying dividends (or, very little).

NOTE: StockGuilt is a blog about interesting stocks, and our views. We are not stock brokers, investment councilors, planners or legal advisers. In fact, at least one of us is an idiot. The rest are just folks who think about investments. This is what we think, and what we will do/did. In no way are we telling your what to buy or sell … Do your own homework.

If it works out for you, and you feel generous, well, we’ll probably get in trouble if we take your money, so …  We like Ronald McDonald houseUnicefSalvation Army and SafeNest

Best return for your investment money, bar none. (Quick Tip)

What if I could get you 23% more money, per year, tax free? You’d be interested, wouldn’t you!

But here’s the thing, it’s not glamorous. Its not fun, or cool or even particularly satisfying … but, if you just simply look at it from a accountants point of view, you’ll see, it’s the best investment you can make:

Paying off your credit card bills.

I don’t know about you, but my rates are about 13.3-27%, per year! If I had $1000 to invest, and $5000 dollars in debt, mathematically, it would make more sense to pay off $1000 on my bills: I could only expect $75-150 in earnings on a stock, whereas I would be paying $130-270 per year, per thousand I owed on credit cards.  

And this type of investment has other benifets: It strengthens your credit (which is good for loans on houses, real estate investments and business loans) and it requires you to make a concerted effort to pay-down debt, while making no additional purchases. You will also learn that there is more than one way to make money, and that looking at a balance sheet is just as important, if not more important, than reading investment news.

If you are serious about your financial future, this is a critical first step.

NOTE: StockGuilt is a blog about interesting stocks, and our views. We are not stock brokers, investment councilors, planners or legal advisers. In fact, at least one of us is an idiot. The rest are just folks who think about investments. This is what we think, and what we will do/did. In no way are we telling your what to buy or sell … Do your own homework.

If it works out for you, and you feel generous, well, we’ll probably get in trouble if we take your money, so …  We like Ronald McDonald houseUnicefSalvation Army and SafeNest

10 ways to over-complicate investing and lose money while doing it! Or, Why my five year old can pick stocks better than you.

New 199

The number one rule in stocks is: Buy low, sell high.

Listen, stocks are scary, because you are investing money and you may lose some of it. But, you go to Vol*dMart to buy groceries every other week, and your probably spending a lot more on those goods than you are on stocks. Why is it so hard to buy stocks?

There are a lot of psychological reasons why buying stocks is hard:

1) You want the perfect stock! The more choices there are out there, the worse you’ll believe your final choice is (seriously, watch this. It will blow your mind); so you hesitate and lose all initiative.

2) You want to buy it at the perfect time! There is no way to know when the perfect time to buy was, until it is in the historical record. Just buy when a stock is really low, and hold the sucker till your 59. I.e., It’s like, you go into Target and see a winter jacket on sale for 33% of it’s previous price, but its June. Since you needed a jacket the previous winter, and had been planning on buying one anyway. You buy it, and next winter you have a good coat. 

3) You don’t know what your doing: I get this, but really, it’s no more complicated than buying a cart full of groceries. It’s way simpler than buying a car, because, heck, if you don’t like it, you just sell it right back and the price is pretty much the same!

4) You worry about the company going out of business. OK, read up on the company, a little.  But don’t over think this. If 5 professionals say, “Hey this company rocks!” It’s probably not going anywhere.

5) You see a company on MSNBC/FOX Business/CNN Business etc., in trouble, and you shy away from it — but those are the only bargains you see. Well, you don’t get $0.15 off a dented can of soup cause it’s pretty! And it’s still the same soup! 

6) You want to buy the next Google, Amazon or Microsoft, with penny stocks, but don’t know which one to buy. Here is the truth, all of them are extremely risky, and 99% of them are garbage. Do you have time to look into these companies? I don’t, and this is one of the two mutual funds I own (small cap and medical insurance). Let the pros figure this out.

7) Your friends/coworkers/relatives/bus boy know more about stocks than you, and you know you can’t compete, and so you don’t. Well, that solves your problem of having to compete with them! But there is a simpler method: Don’t judge your portfolio/decisions/life by other people. Judge it by itself: is it getting better? Just ignore other people. There will always be people smarter, richer, and better at anything/everything than you. But, there will always be someone better than them too.

8) Too many numbers, graphs and ways of looking at this crap! Seriously, there is. Ignore most of that it (look at market cap, dividend, P/E ratio, price and some ratings — done!). Again, if the professionals are saying buy, it is probably OK to just go and buy it. I know there are a lot of serious investors out there who will need some knappy wipes after reading that last sentence, but just because She/He doesn’t know if a company is good or not, doesn’t have any bearing on whether the company’s good! Other people can be right! And another thing these “super knowledgeable” investors seem to forget: It’s pretty easy to buy and sell stuff. If you buy it low, and it goes even lower, you can just wait (or even buy more!). If it goes up, great! Whats the big risk? I don’t understand it …

9) Stocks aren’t safe! Look, if I had bought 10 share of the S&P 500 when I graduated high school in 1993, it would have cost me $4630 at its highest point – at it’s lowest point in the past 10 years, it would have been worth $6830. That is still a profit of $2200. If I had kept it until this very moment, it would be worth: >$15,000, and that is after TWO horrible stock market crashes and the biggest depression since 1930! Lets see your savings account do that!

10) Investing needs to be super-sophisticated. Well, hate to tell you buddy, but you’ve been lied to your entire life. The best diet? Eat less.  The best pickup line? “Hello, I find you attractive. Would you like to have coffee sometime?” Best solution to a mathematical/scientific conundrum? The simplest explanation  The best way to make money in stocks? Buy something.

**

Take home message: Buy stocks of companies you know. Don’t think a lot about it. Really, that’s it.

Don’t watch the market news, don’t dither, don’t read the WSJ. Don’t log-in and look at your account all the time. Just buy a solid company, and play with your kids. Simple.

And tell your self this: If you were explaining to your child about a company and you said, “You know, ___, where we have shopped your entire life, and where mommy and daddy shopped with their grandma and grandpa? The one that’s on every corner in America? Yes, that one. Do you think it will be there tomorrow?” My 5 year old could pull the trigger on that one!

How to invest like a big-time, Cristal guzzling, yacht cruising, hairy-chested hedge-fund manager — on a teachers salary. AKA The StockGuilt manifesto.

Bubble

“I’ll take that one …”

The name of the game is: Beat the S&P. The S&P 500 is an index, a lump, of the largest 500 companies on the Dow-Jones market. And we have to beat them! Beat them?

How the heck can we beat the biggest companies in the world? Do we really have to beat them? Why?

Well the answers are, in order: You probably can’t, and no. Why? Why, is because that is the baseline everyone else is trying to pass. You may have heard this, or, if you are serious about investing in the stock market, you will hear about it: the S&P grows (or declines) in a given amount of time, and you compare your portfolio to it. If you are better than the S&P, you polish up your trumpets and sell seats to your carnival show. If you don’t, you just don’t mention it.

But, here is the truth: The line in the sand is arbitrary (why not every other company listed on the NYSE, numbers 103 till 2175?). Clearing the  hurdle is based on chance (i.e., luck) and really doesn’t mean anything. It is — (get ready for a swear word) — bullshit. 

Let me tell you right now, you may beat the S&P for one year. You may beat it for two. You may beat it for 10 years. You may throw heads on a quarter 14 times in a row. But it ain’t skill, its dumb luck.

So get the image of the swaggering, uber-intelligent, market savvy stock trader out of your mind. You aren’t her, just like you aren’t Beyonce or Jessica Flecher (Murder She Wrote reference … I lost a bet. ).

What we want to do is about as lucky and glamorous as making a brick out of mud. We take the ingredients,  use a system someone else taught us, slap it together, and build a house. We don’t really think too much, because we know we can’t outsmart the market. We just build bricks and make a strong foundation, and shore up walls, and build a future. It’s slow, boring, messy and unglamorous, but, fortunately, it’s pretty foolproof, and it makes more money, and is nearly as safe as your savings account or a CD (or even Bonds). Besides, we don’t have time for this crap. The reason we are doing this is for our families; it would be pretty dumb to ignore them while you are planning for their futures!

So, here are the basics, no messing around. Each of these will be expanded and explained in detail later, but for now, just make a checklist:

  • Buy individual stocks!
  • Keep fees down! 
  • Do your own financial planning!
  • Don’t move your money around, plan to buy and hold for at least 10 years.
  • Use an online brokerage … and if someone wants to give you $600 for putting your money in there, do it. 
  • Save as much as you can — remember, $1 today is $100 when you retire! Every penny counts. 

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: How to invest like a super-smart, Ivy league educated, platinum TAG-Heuer watch wearing  mutual fund managing superstar! 

  • The secret is you simply buy the companies listed on their prospectus (a document they make for number’s geeks, that tells all the financial voodoo, wizardry and statistics; this document shows what their mutual fund is buying). Why pay them, when they are giving you their expertise for free? 

So, about that S&P. The funny thing is, the S&P does just fine. So fine, in fact, there are funds you can purchase (which we discourage, due to fees) that do nothing but mimic the S&P. You would do well to come close. Everything else is luck and should be cherished like gold found on the sidewalk. 

Now, send me $1000 every year until you retire, like a financial planner. Yeah, I didn’t think so. Still think people that invest have to be super-smart? You are now smarter than 90% of them.