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?

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There are 23 comments to "Investing in your investing education: A resource list".

  1. Tim @ An Entrepreneurial Life says 18 March 2013 at 04:28

    I would recommend two books, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher.

    These two authors heavily influenced Warren Buffett.

  2. Martha says 18 March 2013 at 04:29

    Thanks for a very helpful and informative post. As opposed to some recent posts (no, I don’t care about the cost of maintaining curly versus straight hair) this is the type of article that – I think – fits well with what GRS was/should be

    • Karen says 18 March 2013 at 14:15

      So much shade is constantly thrown at Honey, even when its not even her post. Why do people care so much?

  3. Jacq says 18 March 2013 at 04:50

    Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders report
    Books: Quantitative Value, Margin of Safety, the Little Book of… series (best for new investors and probably at the library), John Bogle (for index investors), William O’Neil…
    Experience and knowing you won’t do everything right on day 1 or day 5000 but learning from your mistakes. 🙂

    • Elizabeth says 18 March 2013 at 12:15

      Another by a Canadian author: Allison Griffiths’ Count on Yourself.

  4. My Financial Independence Journey says 18 March 2013 at 06:06

    “The Intelligent Investor” is a great book, although a bit dry, especially if you’re a novice.

    I would recommend that you learn as much as possible about value investing and dividend growth investing (a subset of value investing). Once you anchor your investment decisions in actual data about companies, you have the potential to create real lasting wealth and even beat the market.

  5. Adam - HireMeHigherEd says 18 March 2013 at 07:08

    My mom got me started in investing in a ROTH IRA when I was 8. I used the money that I made cutting my neighbors grass. I used that money when I turned 23 and my wife and I bought our first home. You are 100% correct though, investing knowledge is very much a “use it or lose it” skill. Or maybe more accurately, “stay up to date, or be left behind” skill.

    • KSR says 18 March 2013 at 20:40

      This is an important comment! An entire article could be written about this, because it is not a known. I had to look it up to see if it was legal–considering you said you were 8. This is a fantastic learning and earning tool for kiddos. As long as you report it, that money is earned income and does, in fact, qualify for a Roth IRA. Congratulations to you and your Mom.

  6. Sam says 18 March 2013 at 08:57

    I find the research tools at Fidelity (which is where we have our stock investments – in our IRAs) to be very helpful and informative. You pick your expert strategy and depending on the market you get suggestion on stocks that fit that strategy and then you can research those stocks from there.

  7. Diana says 18 March 2013 at 09:09

    I’d also recommend you take a look at I’ve learned a ton watching “Where Do I Start”

  8. Nick @ says 18 March 2013 at 10:21

    Thanks for the great list!

  9. Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce says 18 March 2013 at 10:47

    Great breakdown and thank you for the links, Lisa! Great post.

  10. William @ Bite the Bullet says 18 March 2013 at 10:52

    Great list! One thing I’m still looking for is a great resource to investing in rental properties. Anybody with something on that, please add to the list. 🙂

  11. Laura says 18 March 2013 at 12:29

    This seems a good place to ask: when I get to the investing stage (not there yet, still paying off credit card debt + mortgage), I only want to invest in green companies and/or socially-responsible companies. Are there any books or websites that focus solely on that, or do any of the resources listed carry that info as a subset? Thanks in advance to anyone who can answer this question. (P.S. – I do have a 401k through work, but they have exactly one socially-responsible fund so exploring within the various funds offered is moot.)

    • Lisa Aberle says 18 March 2013 at 14:08

      I haven’t done much research on socially responsible companies, but it seems like the line between the ones that are and the ones that aren’t is so blurry. If there is enough information on these companies, I will write a blog post on it.

    • Babs says 19 March 2013 at 06:19

      I have an IRA at Pax World. It was the first rollover I ever did. It’s been there more than 25 years.

      “Pax World Management LLC integrates Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into investment analysis and decision making.”

      They have a lot of information on their website if you want to check it out.
      Actually I think it would be great material for some posts.

  12. Elizabeth says 18 March 2013 at 13:45

    Thanks for the list in the post and the comments! Looks like some great resources. I like seeing practical topics like this on GRS.

  13. Carla says 18 March 2013 at 14:11

    Thank you for posting this list! Every since I started earning money I’ve always shied away from what I considered, ‘the grad school of personal finance’. It always seemed like Greek to me and an easy way to lose everything. Now in my mid 30s I am so far behind where I should be but I guess there is no better time to start than now.

  14. Matt Becker says 19 March 2013 at 03:59

    Thanks for the reminder that we all need to continuously be learning. Two book recommendations that will help people learn how to invest simply and effectively:
    -“The Bogleheads’ Guide to Retirement Planning”
    -“Unconventional Success” by David Swensen

    If you want to keep investing really simple, “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi is a great personal finance book with strong, concise, clear arguments about why simple investing strategies are far better than most.

    I would honestly stay away from books like “One Up on Wall Street” by Peter Lynch because it makes stock picking seem simple. That kind of attitude will get most people in trouble. The Intelligent Investor is a great book, but probably not really helpful for most people who just need to learn how to properly allocate their money across index funds, track and rebalance.

    Good investing is relatively simple. You don’t need to pour through earnings reports or anything like that. Understand asset allocation, pick good index funds to track that allocation, and check in every now and then to rebalance.

    • Mike Piper says 19 March 2013 at 05:30

      I agree re: stock picking.

      I’ll add that the Bogleheads forum is a great place to learn more about investing:

    • Danielle says 20 March 2013 at 12:08

      I agree that Peter Lynch is entertaining, but if you follow his recommendations you’ll end up primarily in consumer stocks, not always the best play. Also, if you look at the overall performance of Magellan, it did about as well as the S&P 500, in an era when the S&P was pretty go-go, also. It’s easy to look like a genius in an up market. Let me add a recommendation for Rick Ferri’s book, “The Power of Passive Investing”.

  15. Marla says 20 March 2013 at 16:54

    I would love if you guys would sometimes recommend Canadian resources!

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