What to know before you start DIY investing

Image of title that say DIY Investing - what to know before you start

Image of title that say DIY Investing - what to know before you start

Do-it-yourself or DIY investing has never been easier. If you have access to the internet and aren’t afraid of technology, then you’ve got a chance to earn money on your savings like the 1% (buzz word for the super wealthy). In this multi-part series I’m going to show you how to invest in stocks, bonds, and index funds the easy way so that you can get your money earning more money. Here’s what you need to know before you start DIY investing.

1. Get debt free (except your mortgage)

First of all, you need to be out of debt except for a possible mortgage on your house. If you have any debt (credit card, personal loans, student loans), you need to take the money you’ve saved and pay that off first. It’s a guaranteed return on your money. What does that mean? If your credit card interest rate is 14.99%, whatever you pay off on that card, you’re essentially earning 14.99% back by not having to pay that interest. Debt is negative interest on your money. Paying it off is a guaranteed return. Even a 4% guaranteed return is better than trying to cover that debt by earning more in the market. Pay off your debts first.

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Index funds all day long baby

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An image that reads, "DIY Investing: Index funds all day long". The easy way to beat 90% of professional investors is to invest that money in low cost index funds through ETF’s. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. It took me 10 years to learn this, but when I figured it out and back tested it, I laughed at how obvious and simple it is. Then I wondered why no one was teaching this. This should be taught in middle school and retaught in high school. So I vigorously scoured the internet and sure enough, tons of intelligent, respectable advisors and financial magazines tout the benefits of index investing and how professional fund managers don’t “beat the market”. And when professional investors say don’t “beat the market”, the market = index funds. It all seems so obvious, yet for some reason it’s not. So I’m here to bring the obvious to light. It’s index funds all day long, baby. Follow this advice and you’ll be earning money like those wealthy 1% who pay less tax than you. If you can’t beat ’em, invest in them!

Proof is in the pudding – Had Mr. Trump invested in index funds (instead of real estate), he’d be twice as rich. Sucker!

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Dave Ramsey’s 4 mutual fund types explained

Image of Dave Ramsey laughing.

Image of Dave Ramsey laughing.

Dave Ramsey is a genius when it comes to inspiring people with common sense to get out of debt and to live within their means. He gets a fair bit of criticism on his investing advice though. Dave recommends people spread their investments across four types of mutual funds:

  1. Growth (25%)
  2. Growth and Income (25%)
  3. Aggressive Growth (25%)
  4. International. (25%)

Enthusiastic readers and listeners probably run off to Google to find these 4 mutual fund investments to invest like Dave and build wealth. But the answers are hidden – and followers end up having to contact an investing ELP (or endorsed local provider) that follows Dave’s rules (and pays for his endorsement).

Dave purposely shies away from giving specific investment advice to his listeners. Part of it probably has to do with the rules and regulations around giving investment advice, and part of it is probably because he’s honed his message for simplicity and maximum effect. The problem is: many debt-free followers are left wondering where to invest their retirement or extra money. I’m no ELP, but let me help fill-in where Dave has left off when it comes to investing in mutual funds for maximum efficiency.

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4 best places smart people put their extra money

Image of money growing on a plant.

Image of money growing on a plant.A common question from readers is, “Where should I put my money?” Whether it’s an inheritance, or money saved up over time, people new to having a relatively large sum of money often aren’t sure where to invest that money. Below is an example question from a woman in her 50’s and my response of where she should put her money for retirement and beyond. Though the answer can differ, here are the 4 best places that smart people put their extra money. 

Shawn,
 
I won’t go into details here, but I moved my 401K to Stronghold last December and it was a nightmare.  I too read Tony’s book and was fired up to do something and that’s what I did. Thankfully, the operation manager at SH cleaned up the mess, but since then I’ve left things alone for the most part. 
 
(Can I just say here that this [investing] stuff terrifies me?)
 
I just received an estate inheritance, taxes have been paid and I need to invest it now. It’s been sitting in my Money Management account with my credit union, but that’s not wise for much longer.  I’ve contributed what I can into my IRA for 2015, same for my HSA, and my plan was to put the rest into my SH investment account.  I just read your posts and am thinking that WiseBanyan may be a better bet.  Given my age [in my 50’s], the 45% Stock/ 55% Bond mix makes sense. Also given the difficulty of interactions with Stronghold, I’d like this process to be easier.  
 
Should I put the money into WiseBanyan? 
 
Your thoughts on next steps would be greatly appreciated.  
 
VERY grateful to have come across your blog, in any event, thank you very much Shawn!  Sounds like you’ve crafted a lovely life for yourself!  
 
Wishing you continued happiness and success.
 
Sincerely,
R

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How to make a budget for first timers to save more & get rich

Image showing a graph if money increasing to 1.46 million dollars in 28 years.

Looking for the easy way to make a budget? Here it is. Like most people, when you think of budgeting and organizing your finances, you think “ain’t nobody got time for that!”.

Simplest Budget Spreadsheet

Image of the ain't nobody got time for that meme.

Well make time, my friend! You don’t want to live like Sweet Brown, do you? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Get yourself on a budget and you’ll be well on your way to getting rich. Here’s how.

1 – Earn Money

At the top of any budget is how much money you earn. We’re going to make a monthly budget because everything else is weird. If you get paid weekly, bi-weekly, or anything else, you’ll need to do a little math to estimate your monthly income.

Two easy ways to estimate your income.

3-Month Average: Take your last 3 months of paychecks and add them up. Take that total and divide by 3. 

Example:

When Paycheck
3 months ago $3,000
2 months ago $4,500
last month $3,000
TOTAL $10,500
AVERAGE $3,500 / month

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Stronghold Financial portfolio checkup review – update

Image of Stronghold Financial homepage.

Image of Stronghold Financial homepage.

So, I wrote a quick review of Tony Robbins’ recommended Stronghold Financial portfolio checkup software in the early stages of it’s release. My initial review was for the common investor to take caution. It was a simple ploy to get a lot of people to signup for their investment advisor services through Tony Robbins’ genius marketing skills. Now, 8 months later, I’ve decided to give the service a second chance. Here is my updated review of Stronghold Financial’s portfolio checkup software.

One Giant Sales Landing Page

If you go to the Stronghold Financial homepage, of which I am purposely choosing not to link to, you will be presented with one giant sales landing page. It’s much better constructed compared to the original version. The first thing to pop up is a quick explainer video by Ajay Gupta. I’m kind of surprised they couldn’t get Tony to do the explainer video. It arguably would’ve been 15x more effective (Tony’s trust factor is so damn high). Alas, you get boring Ajay in front of a bunch of framed certificates (how many colleges did you graduate from, man?) telling you to sign up and trust the advisors he’s hand-picked to make your investing decisions for you.

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Open an investing account with Wisebanyan

Title image for article that reads 'Open an investing account with WiseBanyan'.

Title image for article that reads 'Open an investing account with WiseBanyan'.

If you’re a friend of mine and you don’t have a retirement account setup yet, I want you to open one today. Yes today. Right now. Hopefully you have $5,500 sitting in a savings account or CD earning you nothing right now. Why $5,500? Because that’s the maximum you can contribute to a ROTH IRA which is the retirement account you want to open (if you earn less than $183,000, which I’m pretty sure you do).

I’m going to help you put that money to work for you by opening an investment account with WiseBanyan. There are tons of investing brokerages, but I’m going to highlight one of the easiest places to open an investing account today. You’re going to open it, answer some questions, send your savings there, and let it sit for a year. If you’re not happy with it after a year, you can take it back it and put it back where you have you now. But I’m confident you’ll be so happy with the result after a year, you’ll not only keep your money there but you’ll add more to it.

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The 4 best options to travel in Asia for the first time

An image of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan.

An image of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan.

So you want to travel in Asia for the first time. Where should you go? What are the best countries and destinations for your first trip to Asia. Well, I’ve traveled to most of the countries in SE Asia and I’d like to help you out. But there’s no easy answer. Here are four options for first time travelers to Asia.

  1. The Big Two – Japan and China
  2. Beach & Scuba – Philippines & Bali
  3. Elephants & Angkor Wat – Thailand, Cambodia
  4. Big City Tour – Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai

Before you decide, it depends a lot on what you’re looking for and how long you have. You might want to hit the big ones – China and Japan. Or you might want to hit the cheap ones – Thailand, Cambodia. You might want culture, or you might just want beaches. Here are a couple thoughts to consider before you decide where to travel in Asia your first time.

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Tony Robbins wants you to invest now

Image of Tony Robbins meditating with a speech bubble that says "Get in the game."

Image of Tony Robbins meditating with a speech bubble that says "Get in the game."

Everybody loves Tony Robbins, right? The guy is a superhuman. So when he published his first book in almost 20 years and it wasn’t about peak potential or flow, but about how to win in the money game, people took notice. Well, don’t go out and buy the book just yet. It’s 688 pages and has mixed reviews. Let me help distill his best advice into something more easily consumable. Here are some of the better takeaways from an interview he did with Inc. (video after the break).

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Why investing beats savings accounts

A chart showing the growth of $10,000 invested and saved.

A chart showing the growth of $10,000 invested and saved.

I hope this chart is self-explanatory. But in the case that it might not be. Let me explain it for you. If you had $10,000 in March of 2005, this is how much money you’d have if you had either put it into a savings account (red/orange line) or had invested it in the stock market (blue line).  It’s 2015 now and 10 years later, this is how much money you’d have in your account. Which would you prefer? This chart shows why an investment account is better than a savings account.

So, if you’ve paid off your debts, saved up a couple $1,000 and now you’re curious about how to put that money to work, look no further. You’re asking yourself, “what should I do with X dollars?” Should you invest in the stock market or put it into a savings account? Look at that chart and you tell me.

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