Stock Market Newsletters: Are They Worthwhile?

Have you ever received an email or letter reading something like this? Are you tired of working for that boss you hate? You’ll never get rich working for a big company, so here’s the proven way to build wealth, working only about an hour a month. Pitches like these for investment newsletters try to appeal to our emotions and our human ability to suspend common sense and believe anything we want to believe. Let’s take a closer look. The logic …

Jack Bogle’s 5 Simple Rules for Investing in Stocks

Last week, 200 “Bogleheads” met for an annual gathering near Philadelphia, PA to hear the legendary founder of Vanguard, the world’s largest fund company, talk about investing. The Bogleheads is a not-for-profit organization in which anyone can post financial questions (at bogleheads.org) and then hundreds of volunteer members (Bogleheads) who are seasoned investors respond with advice — generally without a profit motive. To ask a question, you must join, but you can probably find the answer to your question by …

Investing: Encourage the Kids to Invest in Stocks

Just 26 percent of people under 30 are investing in stocks, according to a survey published by Bankrate.com, a personal finance site. By comparison, 58 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 invest in stocks. Since millennials have a much longer time horizon, stocks are generally more appropriate for them. So this trend is exactly the opposite of what logic would dictate. But it’s not logic that’s at play here — it’s emotion. According to a poll by Goldman Sachs, …

When to Sell an Investment

I’m often asked when the right time is to sell an investment. There are actually two answers — a logical one and an emotional one. Let me explain by illustrating through one of the lessons in a course I teach. I teach behavioral finance to CPAs (and confess I am one). I give the class the following situation and then poll them on what they would do: You have been gifted $10,000 and decide to buy two stocks with it. …

How to Beat the S&P 500 Index

I’m going to try to mislead you, but it’s for a very good reason. What I have for you is a U.S. stock fund that not only has beaten the S&P 500 index, it’s nearly certain to continue doing so in the long run. For now, I’m going to call this mutual fund the Super-Secret Fund, or SSF for short. Looking back over 20 years, you can see that the SSF trounced the S&P 500 index. Not only did it …

Can Indexing Become Too Big?

For some time now, actively managed mutual funds have been underperforming index funds that essentially own shares of all the stocks in the market. That’s because the lower costs of index funds give them huge advantages over the high-priced active funds. Though I’ve been investing in index funds for decades, I’m rather surprised by their more recent popularity. My indexing approach was once rare, but now a full 37 percent of the money in U.S. stock funds is in index …