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Personal finance suggestions

By bg   2012 Jun 16, 1:06am   11,366 views   45 comments   watch (2)   quote      

I am needing some suggestions about how to educate myself to be a better investor. I have read a lot of basic stuff on personal finance. I am needing to take some next steps and an not feeling confident on what to do.

I am a good saver. I have minimal debt (student loan at very low interest). I need to know what to do with the cash I am saving. I am not sure how to proceed.

It has been a while, but I have read The Millionaire Next Door, a book about paying yourself first, lots of Suze Orman, I have found them to be useful in organizing files, setting up allotments to retirement and savings, making a trust, setting up life insurance, etc., but less useful in helping me figure out how to invest. THey were more helpful to me in solidifying things I already suspected. Namely, stay out of debt and save money.

I have tried reading this forum, but my experience of it is that it is more of an economics forum than an investing forum. That may be due to my lack of experience in translating economic phenomenon into specific investments.

Any suggestions appreciated.

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6   bg   2012 Jun 16, 4:34pm     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

I should have said this in my first post. Thank you guys for your comments and suggestions.

7   B.A.C.A.H.   2012 Jun 16, 4:57pm     ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike   quote    


Reading between the lines of E-man's postings, he sounds like he either fled from the Communists in Vietnam or else his parents did. For people like that, it was probably physical gold that got them out, not paper scrip money from a collapsing South Vietnamese regime, nor "financial assets" like equities, bonds and the like. It is hardly surprising that he values physical assets like being a landlord and renting out property.

It is prudent to "invest" instead of just hoarding paper money, but I would not worry about the USA collapsing like South Vietnam. We have too many nukes and too many gun nuts for that to happen. And if we did unravel like South Vietnam or Mad Max, rental property or gold are probably not the way to go. Instead, you should have your own personal arsenal.

8   bg   2012 Jun 17, 4:22pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

I did talk to one CFA. All the stuff he wanted me to sign sounded like he wanted me to invest in a bunch of stuff that paid all kinds of load and commissions up front. This made me nervous. I would rather pay him hourly for advice rather than paying a percentage. Is that naive to want to avoid that?

9   B.A.C.A.H.   2012 Jun 17, 4:34pm     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

Be your own " 'non-C' FA".

Everybody hiring all these people all of the time just aids and abets the whole "finance" industry.

Some of the people who were wiped out by Bernie Madoff didn't even know it because their "personal financial advisor" had "invested" in Madoff's fund.

Do you really need someone who got some high-falootin' sounding certificate to tell you some common sense? Even worse, to pay them for their 'precious' time?

If I were a financial advisor I would've put myself out of business, because I would've directed the client on what to read and what to learn to be his own advisor. Including, insisting for the sake of his own privacy that he not tell me nor anyone else his personal finance situation.

Clambo's posts on his personal stuff sound like he's a total *ssh*le, but on the personal finance part he sounds spot on.

10   bg   2012 Jun 18, 12:18am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

B.A.C.H. I am always surprised how many people assume I am a man ;-) I am good on the "chick" front, but I do want to keep up with my athletic husband!

I can take the advice about hitting the gym, just with different goals in mind. That is good for everybody!

11   B.A.C.A.H.   2012 Jun 18, 1:44am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

bg, i did not assume you were a man. I thought perhaps a woman because of the wording of the original post, fitting a pattern i have seen before on

Anyway, be your own Financial Advisor.

12   Hilivingston   2012 Jun 18, 5:02am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    


Excellent info ! I am in Boston area, seeking same kind of situation you describe. Can you point me to info, or more fully describe, how the leverage on property works ? I refer to the following sentences in your post:

"Therefore a 3% appreciation will give you 12% return on your investment. In addition, the tenant is paying off your mortgage, and you get positive cashflow (dividend) every month. If done correctly, you can leverage 9:1. Yep a 27% annual return on 3% appreciation."

Maybe its obvious, but i dont get it. Thank you !


13   woppa   2012 Jun 18, 9:20am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike (1)   quote    

I'm going to take a stab and guess that he means you put 25% down, borrow the rest. 400k house means 100k down, 3% appreciation means you now have a house valued at ~412k. Not sure how to get a loan to value ratio of 9-1 though.

14   CL   2012 Jun 18, 10:00am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

bg says

3. Son's college,

What do you guys think about a 529 plan?

15   zzyzzx   2012 Jun 19, 1:24am     ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote    

Buy low and sell high. Works every time!

16   Vicente   2012 Jun 19, 4:42am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

If your timeframe is LONG then owning real estate does make sense. I knew a guy who bought lots of small commercial properties. You know those professional complexes, like where you'd have a dentist, and eyeglass place etc. His point wasn't to make a ton of money off the rent either, some made money some just broke even. Professional offices are much less fickle than apartment renters, they stay a long time. But he kept expanding those holdings, and after 3 decades had dozens. A few got sold for good profit because you know people want to put up apartments, etc. I'm thinking in this direction myself now.

17   B.A.C.A.H.   2012 Jun 19, 4:42am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    


Based upon stuff he wrote, I'd say clambo is closer to my age (I have a kid in college) than E-man' age. So you may also notice that clambo and I have more or less encouraged you to teach yourself to be your own F/A. Because we reach a point in life where we are not so interested in boasting about stuff we know as we are in encouraging the next generation to find its own way. You know the saying, feed me versus teaching me to find food.

18   clambo   2012 Jun 19, 5:29am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

I dislike the "life cycle funds". Get out of them.
Bogleheads is bullshit by the way. They are completely drunk on the koolaid that you must be balanced, i.e. own bonds equal to your age almost as a percentage.
This won't work today. I was banned from there although many posters liked my posts, go figure.
AAPL stock is going to pay a dividend higher than treasury debt soon. Which is a good thing to own? Hint: they are NOT creating any more shares of AAPL.
My little old lady neighbor is richer than God. She got that way buying and holding stocks for decades. She has had Deere for 60 years for example.
If you want a "buy and forget fund" try T.Rowe Price Capital appreciation, then add in some Small Cap Value, International.
Don't buy a huge % of "international" stock funds, this is what Bogleheads say and I say baloney. 15% or so is just fine.
Vanguard Dividend growth, Fidelity Contrafund, also are good funds.
The question of real estate v stock investment is irrelevant.
One is an investment to live off of and enjoy life, the other is a place to live IN.
If you can afford both, and enjoy the hassle, buy a place. You can always reverse mortgage it and get your money out of it.
If you can afford ONE, invest the hell out of your money in stock mutual funds for your retirement.
My grandmother was a businesswoman ahead of her time. She made money with antiques, buying many from bankrupt formerly rich who were wiped out in the 29 crash. She rented all of her life. I had no idea since she rented a fantastic carriage house with a cobblestone driveway in the Northeast USA. It's probably on the national register today.
She never bought because she abhored debt and she loved cash.
The people who can help you for the least money are Vanguard and T.Rowe Price.
I have no idea what being an asshole means here, I guess that means I have opinions about things like the govt. picking my pocket or rewarding illegals or was it something else I said? :)

19   clambo   2012 Jun 19, 5:45am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

I want to add to something BACAH wrote.
I know some people in the business, and I was once very briefly in the business.
They are often broke personally. They are also often completely clueless about investing, current events, and everything else that helps you make rational decisions.
They take several tests to be registered to sell securities. It was previously series 6 and 67. This was about mutual funds and how you can describe them to a client. Essentially you must never suggest a fund you believe the client does not need, e.g. "emerging market stock fund" to 90 year old lady.
Later people got series 7 so they could sell the plans they create for you which Vanguard and T.Rowe Price do for less.
Some guys who would be more completely "educated" in this have the Life Agent license, because for anyone who has a family, life insurance is essential. Those "financial planners" who do not even have Life Agent license are either 1. lazy 2. clueless 3. don't care about your needs 4. don't give a shit.
Of course without that life agent license they cannot tell you about annuities, which in some situations are a good idea. The problem is unless the Var. Annuity came from Vanguard or T.Rowe Price it's probably too expensive.
My variable annuity at Vanguard costs me less to own each year than my Fidelity Contrafund for example. I will not sell either.
For your future reference, if you are in several states like California, you should NOT annuitize your annuity when you retire, because they invented a new tax on annuities (because only "rich" own them).
Those planners who say they only charge a small "management fee" each year are really expensive when you come to think of it.
I would not shuck out that 1% "wrap fee" on my portfolio, that would be in the thousands of dollars per year. Fuck that noise.
You can follow bogleheads in the area of stock mutual fund choice. My first fund for stocks was Vanguard Total Stock Market Index and this is a fine choice for anyone.
I just was annoyed with the Bogleheads saying I needed to be 45% in bonds and 30% international and I said bullshit because of currency risk and bond yields falling, and they kicked my ass out.
Well, I can be kicked out and watch my AAPL which I bought by selling my bond fund, I will be sipping umbrella drinks on a warm beach while attended to by my young "nurse" someday.
You ain't gonna do that with govt. bonds. High Yield Corporate bonds at Vanguard of course is an OK choice when it re-opens.

20   EBGuy   2012 Jun 19, 5:51am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

My partner is in San Carlos so he might be able to give you some inputs in your neck of the woods. The dude is very smart and extremely analytical. He's so smart that he makes me look stupid.
E-man that is too funny; I thought you were supposed to be showing him the ropes. Anyway, it is good to hear that the partnership is going well. Do you have much anxiety about the Big One wiping out all your investments? That's one I'm wrestling with as I think about investing in RE locally.

21   clambo   2012 Jun 19, 5:54am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Broke financial planner profile:
My friend dates a woman who got an inheritance and spent it on a useless degree. She took some tests and she now works part time for a guy who has lots of clients for his wrap fee business. He also gets commissions.
She is personally able to pay her (controlled) rent, and still owes her college loan. She is 50 and has a NEGATIVE net worth.
She could be your personal financial planner if you made the mistake of strolling into her office.
No one wants to ask the person on the other side of the desk in a suit "are you broke and need to get my money today?"
Believe me they sometimes are.
One TOP earning financial planner I met who is also rich as hell was previously a CAR salesman.
Surgery you can't do yourself. This stuff you can do yourself.

22   errc   2012 Jun 19, 6:26am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

With all the headwinds we are facing in this country, I am timid of doing anything long term, especially those investment vehicles that are dependent on trusting that the government and those companies won't render all your gains and then some, worthless

My advice would be educate yourself, we are all different and should have different paths to get to our different goals. I remember reading Millionaire Next Door as a child, and thought it rather simple and uninspiring. I also think Taleb spoke poorly of that book in Fooled By Randomness

I'm a gambler, and prefer short term strikes. That being said, I applied to have my trading acct approved for options last week. I plan to risk some scratch on betting against WFC. The puts seem pricy (maybe I'm still confused as to how they work), but I intend to buy some July 31/30/29 WFC puts this week,,,,,

23   everything   2012 Jun 19, 8:13am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

Get your own brokerage account, but take it easy until you learn the ropes. I have three investment vehicles, a pension, a 401k, and social security, I have just about zero faith that any of those will be there for me later but I still put money in them.

For the last few years I've been educating myself regarding investing in physical silver and gold, making smaller buys, purchasing quietly through private sellers.

At 42 myself, and single, RE purchase makes little sense to me any longer. When I'm 55 I'll move into a government subsidized retirement community.

Sure RE investment is great, subsidized/propped up by the government, banks, and the backs of your fellow Americans, you really can't lose on that either.

24   rockyroad   2012 Jun 19, 8:25am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

everything says

I have three investment vehicles, a pension, a 401k, and social security, I have just about zero faith that any of those will be there for me later but I still put money in them.

uhh... you have no choice but to put money in pension & social.

25   everything   2012 Jun 19, 8:57am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

Yes I do. I could quit my job.

26   rockyroad   2012 Jun 19, 2:07pm     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

everything says

Yes I do. I could quit my job.

that's not a choice... is it?

27   B.A.C.A.H.   2012 Jun 19, 6:35pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

clambo, some of your generalizations about relations between the sexes.

28   bg   2013 Jan 12, 11:06pm     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

B.A.C.A.H. says

bg, i did not assume you were a man.

I didn't think you were assuming that.

I am back on this thread reviewing everyone's suggestions. Continuing to try to learn how to fish.

29   MsBennet   2013 Jan 14, 4:21pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Read the posts at Bogelheads website and read their wiki pages. They suggest you invest in three index funds at Vanguard with low costs and adjust your asset allocation as needed (you can tweak as needed or add extras, but that's basically it.) Since no one can predict stocks, it's the easiest, safest and lowest cost way to invest. And you do it yourself!

30   B.A.C.A.H.   2013 Jan 15, 1:39pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

cool resource, thanks !

31   Facebooksux   2013 Jan 15, 2:11pm     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote    


There are no easy answers in this completely rigged market/economy but the fundamentals for precious metals are solid for the long term.

Actually, guns, ammo and canned food are deserving of a few thousand of your worthless BERNANKBUX.

And FFS please don't listen to these guys that are leveraged 30:1 in real estate. You're going to get burned doing that.

32   JodyChunder   2013 Jan 15, 2:20pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Facebooksux says

Actually, guns, ammo and canned food are deserving of a few thousand of your worthless BERNANKBUX.

How goddamn depressing. It's fucking 1953 again.

33   mell   2013 Jan 15, 2:25pm     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote is good. Big agriculture, energy, miners/precious metals or healthcare stocks are more conservative, safer bets (although I don't trade them much). If they pay a dividend even better. Don't leverage or go on margin, I'd avoid housing, unless you can pair up with e-man ;) Maybe invest part into foreign currencies as well (pretty much anything is more attractive than the USD now). It's best to educate yourself first and find out what your preferences and accepted levels of risk are. Don't listen to others (not even me), find your own niche/mix of securities you'd like to gamble in.

34   Peter P   2013 Jan 15, 2:33pm     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

35   Peter P   2013 Jan 15, 2:39pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Even if you only want to invest conservatively it is very useful to read books on trading. "Investment" is a form of diluted, low frequency speculation.

I suggest

The Art of Speculation by Philip L. Carret
The Story of a Speculator by Arthur W. Cutton

These are time-proven classics. But the meaning of wealth has never changed.

36   Peter P   2013 Jan 15, 2:43pm     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

This one is also pretty good:

Most great finance books were written in the 1930's.

If you want something more contemporary, you should definitely read

The Alchemy of Finance by George Soros

One of my observations is that the market tend to transfer wealth from the mass to the few. I think it is not unreasonable to assume that common sense is your worst enemy in the world of investment.

37   swebb   2013 Jan 16, 6:59am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

bg says

When I thought I was going to maybe try to buy a house, I stopped funding my Roth.

I'm not sure about this, but I think you can withdraw any funds that you have deposited into a Roth IRA at any time without penalty or taxes. You can't withdraw earnings, but you can withdraw the contributions. With this in mind I have opted to fully fund my Roth even though I had plans to buy a house -- the logic is that the Roth contribution limit is something you can't get back, so use it while you have it, and if you decide later you need the money you can get it back, and if not you will have the advantage of it being in the Roth. There are multiple advantages of being in an IRA.

For example, you can withdraw funds from an IRA as part of a "rollover" transaction, and you have some amount of time (30 days? 45 days?) to roll them back into an IRA (I think even the same one) without, say you have some other source of downpayment $ (a loan from parents, for example) that otherwise wouldn't be good with the bank, you can use the IRA, close the deal, get the loan and pay back the IRA...not losing your contribution base.

You also (probably) have the option of rolling your IRA into your 401K, and then getting a 401K loan to fund the down payment of the house. There are restrictions, but you basically get to borrow money from yourself -- the interest goes back to you, and into your 401K...and over time you pay the principal back in and again don't lose the contribution base...

Also I think funds in an IRA have some protection against bankruptcy and maybe law suits, etc...

Something to consider.

38   jvolstad   2013 Jan 16, 7:03am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

39   ttsmyf   2013 Jan 16, 8:44am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Be aware of these simple, real price histories.
VERY instructive, surely.
I would claim that it is COMPELLING that these histories are kept nearly never seen. So, I first conclude that the 'establishment' are conpersons FIRST.

40   bg   2013 Jan 20, 3:08am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

ttsmyf says

Be aware of these simple, real price histories.

VERY instructive, surely.

I would claim that it is COMPELLING that these histories are kept nearly never seen. So, I first conclude that the 'establishment' are conpersons FIRST.

@ ttsmfy: I looked at your thread a while back. I don't mean to be dense, but can you help me understand what I am looking at?

I see a curve for housing that looks like it has a similar shape as that of the stock market. Are you arguing that the stock market is in as much of a bubble as housing has been? Is your point that both are equally risky? I am not sure what you want me to conclude, but that it my stab at it.

41   bg   2013 Jan 20, 3:10am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

@swebb Thanks. I had heard that before, but didn't act on it. This year, I have started funding my Roth.

@E-man: Most of what I have in my roth has been there a long time. I think it is probably good for me to go back to funding it. Even with the delay on withdrawals.

42   ttsmyf   2013 Jan 21, 8:47am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

Hi bg,
Thanks for asking -- I don’t write as clear as I think I am! An initial question please -- this is the chart that got me started, is the content promptly clear to you, pretending that you hadn’t yet seen any other such of my pages?

Here’s my thinking ... People interested in something as a candidate long-term investment commonly examine its long-term past price history. This is soundly done after inflation-adjustment of US$ prices -- what I have done. For credibility of my charts, see the above URL for the WSJ chart, and this for the NYT chart:

Long-term investors seek increasing prices, of course -- BUT the past is dominated by serial herd behaviors: “Real Homes, Real Dow” at
Individuals’ experiences were overwhelmingly timing-dependent. People uninformed of these serial herd behaviors are people fooled. This fooling of the people is USA history to date.

Here I wrote
“The public be suckered” is both (1) this track record, and (2) keeping it unseen.
Obviously, these simple price histories are very instructive. Keeping them seldom seen by the people is intellectual savagery.

Basically, I show the past soundly, so that people can do their own thinking ... To me, these charts are very instructive at a glance; I figure that the ‘establishment’ strongly agrees with me -- and therefore nearly never shows them! I like saying that this status quo is ‘education’ as a four letter word.

See just below the first chart here
for latest prices and extrapolated histories.

BTW, Robert Shiller published such inflation-adjusted price histories in book Irrational Exuberance: stocks, early 2000, 1st ed.; and homes, early 2005, 2nd ed. Both books best sellers; Shiller updates data at
AND, the ‘establishment’ STILL continues with “The public be suckered”!

43   ttsmyf   2013 Jan 21, 9:11am     ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike   quote    

You wrote
I need to know what to do with the cash I am saving. I am not sure how to proceed.
Barclays (888)710-8756 has online savings account, 1%/yr, no minimum, FDIC insured, details convenient. Best safe choice I know of now.
As I believe: bond prices now, and stock prices now, are artificially plenty HIGH, due to Fed manipulating markets -- I avoid such.

44   MsBennet   2013 Jan 21, 1:30pm     ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike   quote    

Barclays (888)710-8756 has online savings account, 1%/yr, no minimum, FDIC insured, details convenient. Best safe choice I know of now.

If you are putting money in a 1%/yr account, you are losing money to inflation.

45   ttsmyf   2013 Jan 22, 10:52am     ↑ like   ↓ dislike   quote    

To hopefully aid your understanding of my figuring of indicated overpricings, please see section "Bubbles relative to GDP" near the bottom of

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