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Archive for 'Investing' Category

A novice's guide to the stock market

Published 6/27/14

A novice's guide to the stock market By Peter Andrew

I did it. I finally did it! Last fall, very late in life for such things, I finally lost my stock market virginity. I'm now the proud owner of shares in not one but two companies. And things are going really well. I invested $3,900 back then, and my holdings are now worth $4,900. On the night after Warren Buffet sees this article -- and who could doubt he will? -- sleep may well elude him.

Cash currently king

Of course, I'm more than pleased with how my investment has grown. And you might assume that those who have deposits today in savings accounts would be green with envy. But no. Many people make an informed choice to keep their money in cash (sometimes literally, but usually in bank accounts) rather than invest it in equities, stocks and shares. By the way, although there are distinctions in the meanings of those three words, there are also large overlaps, and for our purposes today we can use them interchangeably.

In May, the State Street Center for Applied Research found that 36 percent of Americans' assets were held in cash. Extraordinarily, that was up from 26 percent in 2012, just two years earlier. And this rise -- which occurred across all age groups and wealth levels -- was in spite of the fact that, by the end of 2013, all the three main U.S. stock indices were up at least 26 percent from the start of that year. So what is it that makes so many settle for one-twentieth the return, which is common among even the most generous high-interest savings accounts? You can sum it up in a word: fear.

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Money market mutual funds: savings hack or risky tactic?

Published 4/16/12  (Modified 5/13/12)

Money market mutual funds: savings hack or risky tactic? By Justin Boyle

A freelance designer friend of mine recently asked me how to find the best high-yield savings accounts for her rainy-day reserves. As often happens with issues of personal finance in today's economic climate, this is a simple question with a fairly complex answer...

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Would you let your kid buy stock in Disney?

Published 2/22/12  (Modified 12/17/13)

Would you let your kid buy stock in Disney? By Aaron Crowe

I'm not such a big fan of everything Disney that I'll ever win a trivia game about the Magic Kingdom. Like many parents, I like to go to Disneyland as often as I can afford it and watch my daughter light up when she sees Mickey.

Buying stock in Disney isn't as fun as using a Park Hopper pass to tour your favorite amusement parks, but it can be educational. What kid doesn't want to make money?

As an investment and educational tool, buying stock in Disney or any other company that caters to children can be a way to show them how to invest and hopefully make some money while learning about the stock market. There's plenty of math involved. They can learn about the power of reinvesting dividends, dollar cost averaging and how news events can move a stock price.

Direct stock purchase plans through Disney require a minimum investment of $250 to start and additional investments of $50 or more if you want to buy more shares. Unfortunately Disney doesn't sell framed stock certificates of one share of stock to give as gifts, as some companies do, so if you're looking for a keepsake, look elsewhere.

And there are other ways to show your love of Disney, of course. Chase recently started offering Disney's Premier Visa Card with colorful designs of Disney characters. The Disney Rewards Visa provides a similar look without the $49 annual fee. But until there's a Disney prepaid debit card, best to save these Read the full article »

4 steps to picking an investment club

Published 11/30/11  (Modified 12/13/11)

4 steps to picking an investment club By Joshua Wong

Before the dot-com bust of the 1990s and way before the recent recession, I was asked by a co-worker if I wanted to join an investment club. I had often heard him and others discussing stocks during lunch breaks, and it was always a lively conversation that was fun to join.

The group of about a dozen people had an opening for a new member--as most investment clubs do when a member leaves--and he thought I'd be a good addition to the club. I wasn't looking for investment tips or for ideas on how to invest online, but for a chance to learn about stocks with people I knew...

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Top 5 credit cards for consumers with excellent credit

Published 2/16/11  (Modified 12/19/13)

Top 5 credit cards for consumers with excellent credit By Joe Taylor Jr.

Take care of your credit, and credit card companies will want to take care of you.

Banks have put together some hard-to-find credit card offers to attract consumers with high FICO scores. If you've built a strong credit history, you can earn unusually high cash back rebates, travel perks, and low interest rates on balance transfers. According to CardRatings.com, five credit cards rank highest at offering great perks to consumers with excellent credit: ...

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3 top lists of the 5 best online brokers

Published 11/17/10  (Modified 3/17/11)

3 top lists of the 5 best online brokers By Peter Andrew

Broker ages

I have an uncle who's a multimillionaire. And he's always talking about the latest call he's received from his broker. When I was a kid, I somehow pictured the person who called him as a thin, elderly gentleman with parchment-thin skin, wearing a morning coat and wing collar, like one of those plutocrats that they used to feature in 1930s Hollywood movies.

But I was wrong. Even when I was a little boy, brokerages employed thrusting young people who were as far away from the top hat stereotype as you could get. And you can get a lot further now. Because today there are two sorts of brokerages: those that provide proactive, personal service and advice to high net worth individuals such as my uncle, and those that offer do-it-yourself online trading environments that are open to everyone.

Discount brokers

Traditional brokers call up clients with hot tips and recommendations that supposedly provide investors with an inside track. But that comes at an eye-watering price, and it's not at all clear that their record of spotting likely winners is as good as they sometimes claim.

Discount brokers often have the same information online that their traditional counterparts offer, but it's up to you to dig it out, and act upon it. The good news is that their fees are a tiny fraction of those changed in the high-end part of the brokerage market. So now the question is:

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