Don’t be passive when managing investment costs

As you know, gains in your stock investments are not guaranteed, even though it may feel like it if you’ve been invested in the market for the last decade.  Looking at the last five years, the S&P 500 index has increased an average of nearly 17% annually, with only minor corrections along the way.  In fact the S&P 500 returns have been so consistent that most large cap equity funds haven’t been able to beat this performance. Over a five year period only 17.6% of large cap equity funds beat the S&P Index (see exhibit 1 below).  In other words, if you had simply invested in the S&P 500 index then you would have done better than the majority of professional stock investment managers. But that’s not the end of the story. Even if you had invested in a fund that tracks the S&P 500 index, you still could have under-performed depending on the fees you paid to the investment company that managed your money.  Continue reading “Don’t be passive when managing investment costs”

How to maximize the money you make from payments

Individuals can use similar methods employed by businesses to monetize payments made to vendors. For individuals that diligently optimize payments the results can generate hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars in extra cash with the same level of budgeted spending.    Continue reading “How to maximize the money you make from payments”

3 questions every parent and child should answer before choosing a college

If you’ve been reading my recent articles you may sense a theme (or an obsession) with figuring out the costs and benefits of going to college.  There are clearly benefits of going to college, but it is a ‘big money decision’ and should only be made with the appropriate level of due diligence.

While the decision about which school is the “best fit” is somewhat subjective, the cost of obtaining a diploma and how to pay for it should be viewed more objectively.  Continue reading “3 questions every parent and child should answer before choosing a college”

Investing in picks and shovels

I don’t profess to know much about digital currencies or marijuana, but I do know something about speculative investing.  If there’s one thing I know, it’s that you’ll see history repeat itself if you’re around long enough and paying attention.  As it relates to the current digital currency mania, seen in the astronomical price increase of bitcoin, we’ve been here a few times before.  I’m certain you’re not old enough to remember the 17th century tulip bubble crash in the Netherlands or the “gold rush” in the 1800’s, but the “digital currency rush” is similar.  The rapidly rising prices and a fear-of-missing-out creates a frenzy that drives investors to bet it all (or too much) in hopes of getting rich quickly.  Continue reading “Investing in picks and shovels”

4 ways to get free money from spending and saving

Free money does exist, but you need to know where to look for it and how to get it.   Free Money is available when you save by compounding savings and through employer-sponsored matching of retirement savings.  For spending, you can get access to Free Money through cash back credit card programs and federal grants for college. Technically, these methods are not entirely “free” in the true sense of the word since you need to give something to get something, but I consider using these methods like getting Free Money since you need to spend and save any wayContinue reading “4 ways to get free money from spending and saving”