Your Questions About How To Invest

Laura asks…

What are some good ways to invest my money other than in a brokerage account or in real estate?

How else can I invest my money other than buying mutual funds, stocks, bonds, options, and real estate?

John answers:

Hi,

If I were young, I would be investing in small cap growth mutual funds or stocks. Go here for excellent low cost advice (http://www.aaii.com/aaiiportfolios/commentaries/stockportfolio/200701comment.cfm).

Don’t be alarmed at the low cost – it has some of the best financial advice on the Web.

You have lots of time before retirement which means the magic of compound interest will just keep building and building. It really works and if you keep investing every year, in 10 or 15 years you will be surprised at how it mounts up. In 30 years you could be a millionaire which probably won’t amount to much in 30 year owing the the ravages of inflation.

And that’s the primary reason to keep investing in small cap growth stocks – they will flog inflation to death.

When investing in mutual funds, select the no-load funds only. Do not invest in mutual funds with a “load”, an up front commission that you have to pay before when they sell you the mutual fund. Some charge as much as 10% which is a rrip-off. Many studies have shown that the no-load funds do as well as the load funds and sometimes a lot better.

Look at the AAI Shadow Stock Portfolio. I would try and emulate that portfolio if you want to invest in stocks. It was up 25% as of November 2006. The Vanguard Index fund is only up 14%.

AAII has some of the best financial advisers and the cost is very low. They have excellent guides and advice.

You may need a broker so go to e-Trade or Scottsdale who have low commission rates.

Do your own due diligence. Your own ideas are the best. Do not depend on someone else to select investments for you. Learn about investing so you don’t have to ask what stocks to invest in.

Be self reliant.

Remember what Emerson said: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.

Find stocks that have steadily rising net profits (earnings), low debt, and good P/Es, lots of cash, companies buying back their stock..

What interests you? Find stocks that pique your interest and passion.

You need fast growing good stocks with good earnings and in good sectors. You need to learn more about the stock market before you even think about investing in it.

The stocks world is divided into 12 sectors such as energy which chevron belongs to. It is next to last in the sectors list today.

Technology is numero uno, but things can change in a new york minute, but within the sector, the fastest growing are computer services, not Microsoft. Then, Electronic Instruments and controls. Next is computer storage devices.

The next hot sector is Healthcare, but heed the warning below. Go here for sectors: (http://clearstation.etrade.com/cgi-bin/Itechnicals?Event=srp&Section=redge&Refer=/redge.html)

The best software is Vector Vest if you can afford it. It has sector investing.

Here is a free Web site for charting stocks: (http://www.incrediblecharts.com/).

First of all, stay away from “professional brokers” and tips coming to you via e-mail or friends and acquaintances. And tips at Yahoo! Answers. And e-mail tips. Do your own due diligence – don’t rely on someone else. Read Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance.

Hey! They will say anything to get you to buy their junk. If it’s too good to be true, it is.

Remember this, they are just sales people trying to sell you what their firm is pushing. They are not security analysts or financial planners, not even financial advisers. Trust me, I know from experience that they cannot be trusted especially with a million dollars. You risk losing it all. A million dollar account is known as a “whale” and they would love to get their greedy little paws on it and suck it dry. They just want to make commissions on what they buy and sell for the suckers, err…clients..

Risk avoidance is the name of the game.

Remember, the harder I work, the luckier I get.

Penny stocks are highly speculative. I would avoid the ones under a dollar a share. For example, Best Buy started at less than $5. So there are some good companies, but it takes a lot of digging to find the good ones. You are looking for companies with good earnings, little debt, low capitalization, and good P/Es. For stocks under $5, very few will meet these requirements.

Stay away from the pharms unless they have patented drugs – do not invest in generic pharms, no growth there.

Check out which business sectors are the most popular and invest in the companies in those sectors. The number one, two and three are: technology, health care, and cyclicals (retail). These change periodically so keep current.

Go here for a list of growth stocks: http://www.thestreet.com/_googlen/newsanalysis/ratings/10345212.html?cm_ven=GOOGLEN&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA

There are these lists all over the Web – you pays your money and takes your chances.

Watch CNBC, but don’t pay too much attention to the talking heads, except for Jim Cramer, the wild man – but he tries to teach you how to invest and has some great advice.

Get Jim Cramer’s Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World by James J. Cramer

Listen to Jim Cramer on CNBC.com

Go to Clearstation for quotes and tutorials on investing at (http://clearstation.etrade.com/). Sign up is free. Look up a few stocks. Do their tutorials. Check out the sectors.

Get this book: Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond (Wiley Finance) by Bruce C. N. Greenwald, Judd Kahn, Paul D. Sonkin, and Michael van Biema.

Another good book: The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of (Motley Fool) by David Gardner, Tom Gardner, and Selena Maranjian

Jim Cramer’s Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich by James J. Cramer and Cliff Mason

I Want to Make Money in the Stock Market: Learn to Begin Investing Without Losing Your Life Savings! By Chris M. Hart

Sensible Stock Investing: How to Pick, Value, and Manage Stocks by David P. Van Knapp

Stock Investing For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance)) by Paul Mladjenovic

All About Stock Market Strategies : The Easy Way To Get Started by David Brown and Kassandra Bentley

The Motley Fool Investment Guide and their Web site (http://www.fool.com/).

The Little Black Book of Microcap Investing: Beat the Market with NASDAQ/AMEX Microcap Stocks, OTCBB Penny Stocks, and Pink Sheet Stocks by Dan Holtzclaw

How To Make Money In Stocks: A Winning System in Good Times or Bad, 3rd Edition by William J. O’Neil

Trading for a Living: Psychology, Trading Tactics, Money Management by Alexander Elder

Big Trends in Trading: Strategies to Master Major Market Moves (A Marketplace Book) by Price Headley

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds (Paperback)
by Charles Mackay (Author), Andrew Tobias (Foreword) This book talks about the Tulip craze in Holland where people would mortgage their homes to buy Tulip bulbs. Same thing happened in 2001 – 2002 with the Internet bubble that brought the stock market to its knees. The dot com companies were the Tulip bulbs.

Buy Investors Business Daily. It has lots of tutorials and I like it better than the stodgy Wall St Journal.

Money Game by Adam Smith

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings (Wiley Investment Classics) (Hardcover)
by Philip A. Fisher. Recommended by Warren Buffet who took $100,000 and grew it to $34 billion!

Value Investing with the Masters by Kirk Kazanjian

Valuegrowth Investing by Glen Arnold

The 5 Keys to Value Investing by J. Dennis Jean-Jacques

The Intelligent Investor Rev Ed. (Collins Business Essentials) by Benjamin Graham. Warren Buffet was his student at Columbia.

The Money Masters by John Train

The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Taylor Larimore

Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor by John C. Bogle

Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes And How To Correct Them: Lessons From The New Science Of Behavioral Economics by Gary Belsky

Rule #1: The Simple Strategy for Successful Investing in Only 15 Minutes a Week! By Phil Town . See his Web site at (http://www.ruleoneinvestor.com/). Free sign-up. I got the book at the library.

Listen. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these books – most can be found at your library and those that your library doesn’t have they can usually get from other libraries in your state.

Most of these books talk about stock and mutual fund investing, but for a good introduction to other forms of investing Gerald Appel has a great book called Opportunity Investing – How to Profit When Stock Advance, Stocks decline, Inflation Run Rampant, Prices fall, Oil Prices Hit the Roof and Every Time In Between.

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman Not a book on investing, but it’s a nice segue into the next book.

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton

Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham

Finding your strengths is important when investing. These books teach you to build on your strengths, what you a good at. Everyone is good or passionate about something. Why not get better at what you are good at?

Another good book is: Opportunity Investing: How To Profit When Stocks Advance, Stocks Decline, Inflation Runs Rampant, Prices Fall, Oil Prices Hit the Roof, … And Every Time in Between (Hardcover)
by Gerald Appel

Most mutual funds do not even keep up the the return on the S&P. That’s like 99% of them.

Vanguard Index funds are a no brainer.

A CD is better than a savings account. They range from six months to several years. You cannot touch your money tho until the time limit is up.

Check out this Web site on Direct Investment Plans where you can buy shares directly from companies: (http://www.fool.com/School/DRIPs.htm). Usually no fees and you can buy one share at a time.

Bonds are probably the safest. But they are not for the young. You might try a bond fund. They might return 5 or 6 percent. At 5% a million would return $50,000 a year – not a bad income. Remember, you have to pay taxes on the $50,000.

There are also municipal bonds and the income from them is taxfree especially if you buy them in a state that offers them, but they only pay about 3%, but it’s mostly taxfree.

Look into Fidelity sector funds. Buy the top three, then in six months look how they are doing and if not so hot, select the next three that are best. Do this for a few years and you will make lots of money.

Kindest Personal Regards,

Walt Brown
Site Build It Certified Webmaster
capecod1@capecod-beaches.com

P.S. This is a life-long learning process. Reading these books and applying the rules to analyzing stocks that may be good It takes time. Be patient and keep reading and listening. Don’t be a sucker and follow someone elses advice. Be your own man or woman. Depend on no one except yourself. You can only get smarter and stronger that way.

P.P.S. Internet has lots of good stuff, for example (http://stockcharts.com/school/doku.php?id=chart_school:technical_indicators:moving_average_conve
Stockcharts.com is very good and their discussion of MACD is one of the best, barring its originator, Gerald Apple, but now we are getting into Technical Analysis and that is not for beginners. But it is an important factor in finding good stocks that are going up and growing. Remember, tiny acorns grow into mighty oaks.

Lisa asks…

What is the easiest way to invest some money into the stock market?

I’d like to invest maybe $500 into the stock market just for fun…is there a website that perhaps makes this easy to invest…i don’t want to have to talk to a broker…just look something up online and invest into a stock…something easy.

John answers:

I use sharebuilder.com, or etrade.com. If u don’t want to invest online visit a dow jones company and ask them about stock options or partial shares they are easy to try.

Nancy asks…

What is a great carbon emission company to invest in?

I invest through Share Builder. I have Alternative energy stocks and some others. What would be a great small cap carbon emission stock?

John answers:

Dont invest in Evergreen Energy who is in that business or trying to be just in case you run across that name. I am not sure when these companies will start to feel the impact of this.

Dont know any individual companies, sorry

dont use sharebuilder, switch to tradeking. I started with sharebuilder. Tradeking charges 50% less

Betty asks…

What is the best way to invest money to avoid capital gains taxes?

I have approximately $200k to invest. I want to invest it so that I don’t have to pay taxes on the gains every time I close out an investment so I can keep maximum profit for reinvesting until I am ready to retire.

John answers:

You can put money into precious metals and defer capital gains taxes until you sell it. There are some places where you can buy and hold the bullion so it will be exempt from state capital gains taxes and potentially federal capital gains taxes when it is sold. Once you have sold your bullion you will need to re-invest it and unless you put it into something tax free and not subject to the minimum alternative tax you will end up paying some taxes on your profits.

George asks…

Is it a good idea to invest in competing companies?

Is it a good idea to invest in two companies in direct competition? Or just pick one and stick with it? Instinct is telling me that if one of the companies is doing well, the other company would inversely be doing badly. But that may not always be the case. For example: VZ and AT&T. This is just an example, I’m not planning on investing in either of these actually.

John answers:

You should diversify. You want to invest in different sectors, and you want to invest in more than one company in a sector.

For all the predictions and models, there is an unpredictable random element, and if you buy both companies and one of the companies announces tomorrow that its CEO is an alien from Mars, then your whole portfolio won’t be crushed.

Most of the companies I follow tend to follow economic trends more than competitive trends. One company doesn’t do that much better by stealing customers from the other. A company does better when the sector is hot or when the company finds a way to expand the market.

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