11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun 1. Chameleons change colors by enlarging or contracting small crystals in their skin that reflect different hues. (Learn more at USA Today) 2. It’s only human to buy high and sell low, especially in the stock market. (Learn more at AARP) 3. After menopause, female killer whales provide key information that is critical to their pod’s survival. (Learn more at National Geographic) 4. Jimi Hendrix recorded with a group called Curtis Knight & the Squires. (Learn more …

Schwab Starts No-Fee Investment Service

The investing world has been all atwitter — or a tweeter — over the coming of Charles Schwab’s Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, which opened to the public today. The new service from the San Francisco-based money manager is the latest in the growing world of “robo-advisers,” or investment advisory solutions that rely on computer algorithms to build, monitor and rebalance portfolios based on your stated goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Online competitors include Betterment, Wealthfront, SigFig and others, which have …

6 Lessons From the 6-Year-Old Bull Market

Six years ago today, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed at 676.5, which represented a 56 percent decline in less than 18 months. Many a shell-shocked pundit predicted then that the bloodbath was not over, such as this article warning that it would take eight years to recover, possibly longer. Harry Dent’s book The Great Depression Ahead was a best-seller, GM was flirting with bankruptcy, and cash was viewed as the only safe haven. It was a very scary …

Are You a Risk-Taker? Don’t Be Fooled by Bull Market

I’ve filled out more than a few risk-profile questionnaires over the years. These forms are supposed to measure how much investment risk you’re comfortable with, such as what percentage of your portfolio should be in risky stocks versus low-risk bonds. Every questionnaire I’ve ever done has pegged me as a living-on-the-edge kind of guy who should have between 70 percent and 91 percent of my money in stocks or stock funds. And that’s the problem. In reality, only 45 percent of my money is in stock and stock funds, …

Getting Real About Fund Fees

So it’s time to get real about mutual fund fees. Sure, they’re lower than ever for many funds, especially those that track an index. In fact, the average fund fee is now 1.25 percent, according to Chicago-based Morningstar. Still, even this amount is too high and needlessly gives away most of your expected future gains. To understand this, consider the following: You have to frame your gains in real, after-inflation returns. In other words, your portfolio must match inflation just to keep your spending power intact. You …

Shake Shack – Burger or Shares?

New York-based hamburger chain Shake Shack plans to go public soon by issuing stock in an initial public offering (IPO). Yahoo Finance says it’s a hot offering, and the company has raised the price target to between $17 and $19 a share. Should you bite? It’s very tempting, especially when looking at other restaurant chains like Chipotle (CMG), which went public in 2006 at $22 a share and, as of Jan. 28, trades at about $712 a share. Shake Shack will trade on the New …