Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Investing Basics

Quote of the post: "Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune."
-Jim Rohn

Song of the post: 50 Cent - I Get Money

I'm currently interning with the Massachusetts Bankers Association and it is my assignment (along with 3 others) to provide some sort of event or seminar to instill financial literacy in my peers at the University of Massachusetts. At a seminar the other night, someone asked how to get started that's what I will discuss.

1) Decide how much $$$ you would like to invest.
Ideally you want to decide on an amount of money that you can do without for a little while. Also, consider the idea that this lump sum may dissapear for the most part, or multiply quickly. I currently have approximately $1,000 invested in the stock market.

2) Find a broker.
Buying and selling stocks is actually very similar to buying things online. Considering the fact that we would want to conserve as much $$$ as possible, we want to pay as little commission as possible on our trades. This is why I highly suggest using an online discount broker as opposed to a large investment bank. Unless you have a great deal of money to invest, the large banks will charge around $25 to make a trade while online brokerages charge $5-$10. I reccommend three:
a) E*Trade: E*Trade is pretty sweet...they have relatively low account minimums and give you free trades for the first month. And then $9.99 per trade thereafter, also very easy to use.
b) Sharebuilder: A subsidiary of ING, Sharebuilder is flippin sweet (better than pretty sweet) because not only do they have $4 trades on Tuesdays, but they also allow you to buy fractions of stocks (if a stock is $300 you can buy a third every month). AND, if you leave me your e-mail at the end of the post I can send you a referral and Sharebuilder will give you $25 for opening an account...FREE MONEY.
c) Also, there are other discount brokerages like Zecco which is currently offering FREE trades every month. Do a little research, find the best one, or open a few (I have all 3).

3) Do some research!
The beauty of the internet is that you can pretty much learn anything you want somewhere in it the vastness of cyberspace. I prefer Yahoo Finance ( or MSN Money ( which are both good.

So, this is a very very very basic introduction into trading stocks. I wouldn't throw your life savings at E*Trade and go buck wild simply based on this post. However, I would suggest checking it out, and fooling around with your account which is the best way to learn the ropes. Buy a share of a company that you buy products from like Nike (NKE) or Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF).

I think the next post will be on ways to save money, and where to get some FREE MONEY.

$$$Change for a 20.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Premier Post

SO...after spending the last month or so compulsively checking personal finance blogs like some sort of junkie, I've decided to begin my own.

The name 'Change for a 20' (aside from being painfully clever) originated from the fact that I was 20 years old when I first conceived the idea to begin a blog. It also has a blatant monetary connotation- "Do you have change for a 20?", but for the most part it represents my reaching the age of 20 and deciding to take control over my finances.

As of April 1st, I am 21 years old.
I am in my junior year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
I am double-majoring in Real Estate/Entrepreneurship & Political Science.
I love money...and by 'love' I mean-borderline manic obsession.

The following compiles a list of all of my assets, and all of my liabilities, and finally my approximate current net worth.

Bank of America Checking - $60
Bank of America Saving - $35
E*Trade Saving - $304
E*Trade Brokerage (Cash) - $787
E*Trade Brokerage (Portfolio) - $178
Sharebuilder Brokerage - $150
ING Orange Saving - $1
2004 Toyota Corolla Type S (Trade-In Value) - $7,900
Personal Belongings - $2,500
Total Assets: $11,915

Stafford Student Loan - $11,625

Net Worth: $290

Thats pretty rough. My goal...Add 4 zero's in 15 years.