This is part six in a series that will occupy the “money hacks” slot at Get Rich Slowly during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. (Now with correct videos!)

Today’s episode of “Saving and Investing” features three short videos, each of which is an introduction to a particular financial statement. Learning to read financial statements can help you evaluate the companies in which you would like to invest. (These statements are mandatory parts of corporate financial reports.)

First, Michael Fischer explains balance sheets:

What is a balance sheet? (1:53)

This video has some difficult-to-read subtitles. They are, in order:

  • “The left side and right side of a balance sheet are shown at book value (value according to accounting convention).”
  • “This ownership interest would also be shown at book value.”
  • “Balance sheets for accounting purposes show assets, equity, and debt at book value. And they balance.”
  • “Assets (left side), equity, and debt (right side) could also be at market value, and the balance sheet would balance.”
  • “For accounting purposes everything is shown at book value, but it is important to understand the principle.”
  • “That assets = sources of funding (equity and debt). That is what a balance sheet shows.”

The difference between book value and market value can be confusing. Here’s a definition of book value:

An accounting term that states the equity value of an outstanding share of stock. A stock’s book value is determined by dividing the amount of stockholders’ equity by the number of common shares outstanding. A company’s book value may be of no relevance to its to market value.

The book value is what the company is worth on paper. It’s how much has already been paid into it. Market value, on the other hand, reflects how much the company is actually worth. My understanding is that book value represents the past, while market value represents the future (or present).

Visit the following for more information about balance sheets:

The second video in this set is about income statements:

What is an income statement? (3:01)

Once again, YouTube doesn’t do a good job of displaying Michael’s exhibit. Here’s a reconstruction:

Less expenses  
Cost of Goods 20,000
Salaries 50,000
Rent 6,000
Insurance 1,650
Interest Expense 3,500
Other Expenses 6,850
Total Expenses 88,000
Pretax Profit 12,000
Taxes 4,000

For more information about income statements, check out:

The last financial statement with which investors should be familiar is the cash flow statement:

What is a cash flow statement? (2:23)

Here’s my transcription of the cash flow statement exhibit:

Net Income 25,000
Depreciation 4,000
Decrease in Inventories 500
Cash Flow from Operations 29,500
Van bought -20,000
Cash Flow from Investing -20,000
Bank Loan 10,000
Proceeds: Outside Investor 10,000
Cash Flow from Financing 20,000

Visit the following for more information about cash flow statements:

Finally, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission offers a Beginners’ Guide to Financial Statements.

Michael Fischer spent nine years at Goldman Sachs, advising some of the largest private banks, mutual fund companies and hedge funds in the world on investment choices. Look for more episodes of Saving and Investing at Get Rich Slowly every weekday during the month of April. For more information, visit Michael’s site, Saving and Investing, or purchase his book.

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