Investing in your investing education: A resource list
Investing isn't new to me. I opened my first CD in high school back in the good old days of 5 percent interest, and I started contributing to my 401(k) as soon as I was eligible (at age 21). I did everything right according to the articles I read. I:
- Contributed enough to get the maximum employer match
- Saved/invested around 10 percent of my income
- Opened up an IRA
Before I break my arm patting myself on the back, let me tell you that I made a huge error. I stopped too soon in my investing education. Instead of continuing to learn, I rested on my investing laurels — and who knows how much money I've lost out on because I forgot that no one cares more about my money than I do.
And my huge error led me to make many mistakes. For instance, I didn't realize until (embarrassingly) recently that different funds in your 401(k) have different fees. Selecting funds with low fees can make a huge difference in returns. Or “buy and hold” is not the same as “buy and forget about it.” And then there's the issue of investing and taxes.
But doing something (even if I didn't evaluate or understand my choices) is better than nothing, right? So there I stayed, comfortable in my stinky 401(k), letting my financial adviser make fund recommendations for my IRA.
Until this year. This year, I vowed to tackle my investing fear and ignorance. I've been reading old posts on Get Rich Slowly, collecting a list of investing books I want to read and perusing investing websites. I've created this list (along with my impressions of each resource) to help me learn more about investing, and I hope it helps you, too. It's not an exhaustive list, of course. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I get no compensation for including any of these resources.
Get Rich Slowly Blog Posts
For new readers, I dug through the GRS archives to find some solid investing posts. I wanted the posts to highlight different investing strategies and philosophies. I'm sure I missed a few, but this should save you from poking around the Investing archives — at least a few minutes, anyway.
Dividend-paying stocks This is a fairly recent post, focusing on dividend-paying stocks.
Roth IRAs Here is a great post on Roth IRAs.
Developing an investment policy statement – Before starting to invest, analyze why you are investing. What's the point? Figuring that out first will help you form an investing strategy.
How the stock market works – The day this post ran was the day I understood more about the stock market. Sure, things have changed since this 1952 video, but the basics are still the same.
DRIPs This post succinctly covers dividend reinvestment programs.
Mutual funds Here is a great introduction to mutual funds.
Index funds This post describes why many people (including J.D.) have most of their portfolios in index funds.
Bonds No list would be complete without mentioning bonds.
Mutual fund prospectus Part of becoming an educated investor involves understanding where your money is going. Here's how to read (and understand) a mutual fund prospectus.
Best books on investing – This post covers eight well-known investing books, but it's missing some good ones.
One of the good ones it's missing is Peter Lynch's “One Up On Wall Street.” It's old, but I like his focus on simplicity and buying what you know.
“Control Your Cash” by Greg McFarlane and Betty Kincaid is another favorite. This book actually covers all the usual financial topics (credit scores, buying a car and a house, taxes, etc.), but has a couple of chapters on investing and securities. What I like about this book is that it explains investing in a way that I can understand, using a writing style that is funny and still pertains to a wide variety of investors.
Other Blogs and Websites
Bite the Bullet Investing This just-launched blog appears to be created for the investing novice. Posts cover terms such as equity and return and topics like using other people's money. Great if you're just starting out.
SEC guide Use this guide to learn how to read financial statements. I think this is a very easy to understand set of terms.
The Oblivious Investor This site is organized well and Mike Piper writes clearly, without a lot of “fluff.” I found his information on index funds to be easy to understand. I haven't checked out any of his books, but he's written several on various topics. I think he appeals to a wide variety of investors.
Seeking Alpha This site has been mentioned several times in the comments of various GRS articles, so I thought it was worth checking out. It covers individual stocks and has some great articles. To read the entire article, you must register (though it's free, I dislike the extra step). If you're serious, it has a Pro subscription service in addition to the free information. I think there is some great information here, but it's too advanced for me at this time.
The Motley Fool One of my favorite articles on the site is “13 steps to investing foolishly.” Like Seeking Alpha, they offer a premium subscription service along with their free information. This site has something for a range of investors. (GRS contributor Robert Brokamp is the Fool's adviser for its Rule Your Retirement service.)
Morningstar has 172 free investment courses. Topics include “Investing for the long run” and “The magic of compounding.” Did I mention they were free?
Guide to Transparent Investing Frankly, I'm overwhelmed reading my own list. But if you pick anything from this list, please read this guide. Published in 2007, this 53-page discusses DIY financial planning, risk tolerance, and how to create a portfolio to minimize the bite of taxes. It explains fundamental concepts well and includes charts. I wish I'd read this guide years ago.
When doing a list like this, it's so easy to miss lots of great resources. Which ones would you add?