Meeting of the Minds II – Financial Times

I thought I’d start off this Meeting with something that I’ve been putting some time into recently….financial and investing sites.

I don’t know how everyone is dealing with the new economic realities, but I think we could all be more cognizant of the financial markets and what it means for us individually. As of last year, I didn’t have a 401k or any savings plan that would grow over time. I started researching the stock market and individual stocks, just familiarizing myself with what makes the stock market tick.

Like it or not, many of us are freelancers and will not participate in any plan given to us by an employer because we’re self-employed. So…that leaves it up to us to go out and see how we can grow our money for the long term. I’ve come across and will share below, some of the resources I use to gather information and manage my money.

The combination of all of these tools can be very important to making something of what money you do have to invest. Even if it’s $50/month, that can be a good start to your retirement savings.

Sharebuilder.com
Sharebuilder.com is a resource that will allow you to buy stocks or part of stocks for your portfolio. I say part of stocks because you can by a little or a lot. For Example, say google is at $400/share and you’d love to get into google, but you can’t afford even one share. You can set up your account to buy a monthly amount of the stock and it will slowly build a position in the stock without having to buy it one share at a time.

You can buy shares for $9.95 a trade, which is fairly standard. Note: Always buy using Limit orders. NEVER buy using Market orders. You’ll get screwed…bottom line.

But what do you buy? How do you know what stocks to get into? The next six sites get into doing the research that is needed to make an educated buy.

TheStreet.com
TheStreet.com is one of the many news sites that I check into from time to time. There’s this great technical analyst, Dan Fitzpatrick that does a daily chart analysis on three stocks every day. The segment is called, Three Stocks I saw on TV. It goes over a few stocks that were reported on Fast Money and Mad Money by Jim Cramer. If you ever want to find out what is in a chart and how to buy on technical analysis, Dan is your guy.

He also has a weekly newsletter and a frequent contributor on TheStreet.com’s “Real Story” with Frank Curzio…
It’s a daily podcast that I listen to frequently that has great guests and dissects the market’s movements of that day. It’s a great way to learn while retouching. I’ll work on a project and learn about the market at the same time. 🙂 You just go into itunes, click on podcast, and search for “Real Story”. It’ll come up. It’s free and on every day. They start the podcast around 3, and you can download it around 5:30 or 6pm.

Morningstar.com

MorningStar.com is THE research tool to sign up for if you really want to get great information and analysis on any company that is publicly traded. They give some information for free, but they charge a yearly fee for their indepth analysis. I would highly recommend this site if you get into researching and buying stocks yourself.

www.stockpickr.com
Stockpickr.com is a great site that many individual investors use to get great information on buying stocks…which stocks are good, which aren’t, and why.

TheMotleyFool.com
Another great research website…good articles and timely information
.
So how do you track the stocks that you own? How do you get the real-time stock prices?

Yahoo! Finance
Yahoo Finance is the tool I use to track my portfolio. For $12/month you can sign up for “Real-Time” Stock ticker. This gives you the price by the second during the trading day, which is 9:30 am to 4pm. This is important because the stock prices available on most sites give you the information for free, but with a 20 minute lag. A lot can happen in 20 minutes. If you’re buying stocks yourself, you need a site that gives you real time stock prices so you’re buying with current information.

The portfolio manager is free. You just put in your stocks, price you bought, # of shares, and it will track your portfolio. It’s also a great way to, “play” in the beginning. Try this exercise…

Give yourself $50,000 to split up into 5 stocks(a good number of stocks to own and helps to remain diverse). Do some research into companies that you have an interest in. Go onto Morningstar, read about the companies, and then follow them. When you put them in your portfolio, you can click on them and see their charts, news, and much more info. You’ll see every day how your purchases did. If you like it, then maybe you can start putting real money into use.

So…that’s a little synopsis of what I use to invest for the future. It does take some time to do this right, though. Experts say if you’re going to manage your own money, you should spend an hour a week/stock to stay informed. That’s why investing in more stocks than 5 can be tough to keep up on.

Chicken Wing Break!!

Ok, we’re back…nuf about money, since not many of us have enough of it right now…lol.

One more that’s a little about money…invoicing software. Now this particular one is designed for Photographers, but they also make one for designers/graphic artists as well.

www.blinkbid.com

What I like about Blinkbid is it has a built in usage creator so it makes the legal part of our estimating process nice and easy. 30 day free download if you’d like to give it a whirl.

www.audible.com
I mention Audible.com because I think of it as two things. One, it’s nice when I’m in an especially heinous retouching project to listen to a good fiction story to get me through it. Two, it’s like continuing education. When I started researching stocks and the stock market, I downloaded many good titles to give me an introduction to investing. Some of the titles I recommend are below:

Rule #1 : A great book that shows you the rule #1 investing strategy. What is rule #1? Don’t lose money. 🙂

Jim Cramer’s Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World

Jim Cramer’s Stay Mad for Life: Get Rich, Stay Rich (Make Your Kids Even Richer)

Warren Buffett Speaks: Wit and Wisdom from the World’s Greatest Investor

I’ll post up the rest of the evenings topics later on as I gather the information put out by the other guests. I’ll be posting it here, so just check back in a few days for the rest of the evenings news.

James

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