Investing Lessons…The Hard Way

Two more quick thoughts for your 17 to 22-year olds from what we talked about last week.

Becoming financially successful happens from two sides: The savings side, and the borrowing – or not borrowing side. If you want to be rich, it’s a no brainer to study the habits of rich people, right? Well, the Fortune 400 richest people can teach us something we already know. To start, of those 400 richest people, 90% started with nothing – so it’s not inherited money, but rather earned on their own. For these people, 75% shared that the number one way to get rich is to pay off debt and to stay out of debt.

Of course, the best way to actually have money is to not pay it all out every month in interest and bills. That allows you to save. For students, there is a story on how to be a millionaire at age 20 by just saving $10,000. It’s on my web site – a story we did last year.

When you have money – you can invest and watch it grow… if you choose not to gamble with it. Investing is a five year or longer time horizon, and not a one-off stock or investment. It’s long track record, good growth mutual funds and the likes.

Want proof? The two so-called hottest things in investing have been gold and the Facebook, or some other IPO from the tech industry. Well, let’s see how that’s been going:

Gold yesterday went below $1,600. Now, I had said it’d be half of its high of $1,950 or so within two years, and it’s well on track. Just listen to some of the hype about gold and gold stocks. It’s been insane, and you have to know a ton of people invested with borrowed money. That’s now a double hit that will wipe out a ton of their money AND have them paying interest to add insult to injury.

Friday’s launch of Facebook stock is another great example of gambling versus investing. It’s a one-off stock. That’s way too risky for anyone of us to gamble on! The stock came out at $38. That’s what institutional investors got it for in advance. When it came out, the first few hours the stock went up. Of course it did – the almost always do. That’s individuals now getting their first chance at buying it! How do we know? On the first day every stock issued was bought and sold more than once.

So who was selling if individuals were buying? All those institutional companies who got it in advance and wanted out! You can’t buy a stock if nobody is selling! Those companies sold because they knew things you and I didn’t: During their road show of convincing these investment companies to buy the stock they reduced the forecast for Facebook profits. They also gave these institutions more stock than they thought they’d get allocated. Why? Because there wasn’t enough demand. That was a BIG warning flag for those companies to dump it quickly, and you and I didn’t have a clue.

So within a few hours, the stock was back down to its original price. By yesterday it was down to$33 from $38. Any hype to get in right away because you didn’t want to be left out would quickly have died. Today it’s at almost a 15% discount and some think, when you compare it to Google’s profits vs. price it ought to be a $10 stock.

Today you have that knowledge in hindsight. But by today you’d have lost your shirt. Don’t do it – stick with mutual funds managed by people who are on the inside and not reading about it two days late.

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