5 Things You Need to Know About Dow 20,000

“The Dow’s ongoing flirtation with the 20,000 market milestone is the talk of Wall Street.”

The 120-year-old Dow Jones Industrial Average consists of 30-blue chip stocks that make up arguably the world’s best-known stock index.  At the time of this article and this blog post, the average is trading at near record levels and threatening the break the 20,000 mark.  So how important is breaking the 20,000 barrier?  Consider the following five questions.

  1. Why, with the Dow so Close to 20,000, can’t it get over the hump?
  2. Is Dow 20,000 a big deal?
  3. Does a new milestone mark a new stage of the bull run we’ve seen?
  4. Will Dow 20,000 improve the mood of investors?
  5. Is Dow 20,000 a reason to buy?

Adam Shell, in this USA Today article, provides some answers to the above 5 questions that can help investors keep a more balanced perspective on what a Dow 20,000 really means for both individual investors and the economy.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • With so much in the news about the stock market, record high values, a possible correction or pullback in market values, the Federal Reserve’s interest rate changes, and other economic factors, you may want to use this article and this blog post to explain why the Dow Jones Industrial Average is just one of many factors that affect investors, the market, and the economy.

Discussion Questions

  1. Since the Dow Jones Industrial Average is in record territory, is this a good time to invest in the stock market? Explain your answer.
  2. At the time you answer this question, what is the current Dow Jones Industrial Average? Has it gone up or down in the last six months, and what affect has the change had on the stock market and the economy?

How the Presidential Election Will Affect Your Investment Strategy

“The sky is falling!  If my chosen candidate doesn’t win, the markets are doomed and so are my investments.”

In this article, Bijan Golkar points out that a presidential election can cause excitement or despair depending on if you are a Republican or a Democrat and who the major parties nominate for the highest and most powerful office in the world.

The article discusses market returns both before and after a presidential election year and some of the underlying reasons for market volatility.  Then the article stresses the importance of a person’s long-term goals and a plan for long-term growth as opposed to “emotional investing.”  Finally, the article discusses the pros and cons of our economy that could affect investment values.

For more information, click here. 

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss the importance of a long-term investment plan that will take advantage of the time value of money.
  • Describe some of the pitfalls of “emotional investing.”

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the typical characteristics of an emotional investor? Of a long-term investor?
  2. What are the advantages of a long-term investment program when compared to “emotional investing?”

Investor Alert: Securities-Backed Lines of Credit (SBLOC)

SBLOCs are loans that are often marketed to investors as an easy and inexpensive way to access extra cash by borrowing against the assets in your investment portfolio without having to liquidate these securities.  They do, however, carry a number of risks, among them potential unintended tax consequences and the possibility that you may, in fact have to sell your holdings, which could have a significant impact on your long-term investment goals.

Set up as a revolving line of credit, an SBLOC allows you to borrow money using securities held in your investment accounts as collateral.  You can continue to trade and buy and sell securities in your pledged accounts.  An SBLOC requires you to make monthly interest-only payments, and the loan remains outstanding until you repay it.  You can repay some (or all) of the outstanding principal at any time, then borrow again later.  Some investors like the flexibility of an SBLOC as compared to a term loan, which has a stated maturity date and a fixed repayment schedule.  In some ways, SBLOC are reminiscent of home equity lines of credit, except of course that, among other things, they involve the use of your securities rather than your home as collateral.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) have issued an investor alert to provide information about the basics of SBLOC, how they may be marketed to you, and what risks you should consider before posting your investment portfolio as collateral.  SBLOCs may seem like an attractive way to access extra capital when markets are producing positive returns, but market volatility can magnify you potential losses, placing your financial future at greater risks.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to prepare a list of possible advantages and disadvantages of securities-based loans.
  • How might market volatility magnify potential losses placing your financial future at a greater risk?

Discussion Questions

  1. How are securities-backed lines of credit different from home-equity lines of credit?
  2. Why some investors prefer SBLOC to a traditional short term loan?

10 Reasons You Will Never Get Out of Debt

“Do you feel as if you’ll be in debt forever?  You’re not alone.”

According to a CreditCards.com survey, 13 percent of Americans say they’ll never pay off all their loans, and another 8 percent say they won’t pay off what they owe until they’re 71 years old.  While the results of the survey are discouraging, this Kiplinger article describes the following 10 reasons people can’t get out of debt and also provides suggestions for getting out of debt.

  1. You don’t know how much you owe.
  2. You pay only the minimum.
  3. Your mortgage is too big.
  4. You took out too many student loans.
  5. You can’t say no to your kids.
  6. You don’t have money for emergencies.
  7. You feel a sense of entitlement.
  8. Your car loan is too long.
  9. You rack up late fees.
  10. Your interest rates are too high.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Explain how people get in trouble when they make financial decisions without considering the consequences.
  • Go into more detail about how each of the 10 reasons described in this article affect an individual’s financial future.

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you plan to balance your objective of creating an enjoyable and entertaining life with the objective of building a secure financial future?
  2. Based on the 10 reasons in this article, what steps can you take to improve your financial planning for the future.

The Retirement Number Secret No One Wants to Tell You

There’s a substantial gulf between the amount of money Americans have actually saved for retirement and what they might need to last throughout their golden years.”

This article reports the results of a survey conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute which discovered that nearly three in five people surveyed had saved $25,000 or less for their retirement.  Even worse—more than a quarter of those surveyed had saved less than $1,000.

To help plan for retirement, many financial experts suggest that you need between 70 and 85 percent of whatever yearly income you had during your career in order to sustain the lifestyle you enjoyed prior to retiring.  While these calculations provide a recommended dollar amount to provide retirement income, the same calculations often create two problems.  First, there is often a big gap between what people have saved and what they need for retirement.  Second, the amount of money you need in retirement is based on what’s important to you and the standard of living you want in retirement.  And the you may be the most important part of retirement planning.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Explain why you should plan for retirement early in your career rather than waiting until you are about to retire.
  • Reinforce the concepts of the time value of money and a long-term saving and investing program.

Discussion Questions

  1. Many financial experts suggest you begin retirement planning as soon as you begin your career. What are the benefits of planning for retirement planning sooner rather than later?
  2. How is the time value of money related to a long-term investment program and retirement planning?

How to Open a Mutual Fund Account at a Brokerage Firm

“It’s easy to figure out the right type of account—just start with what you’re saving for.”

Too often, investors want to invest, but they don’t know where to start.  While most investment companies and brokerage firms make it as easy as possible to open an account and begin investing, for many would-be investors opening an account is confusing and often traumatic.

The link below describes a practical approach that helps would-be investors to begin investing at Vanguard—one of the largest and most successful companies in the investment world.  Note:  The link below provides information for Vanguard, but other investment companies and brokerage firms provide similar information on their websites.  At the Vanguard site, there is basic information about mutual funds.  Then specific information about fees and no-load funds is included in the section “Discover Vanguard’s Advantages.”  Next, there is a section on choosing the right fund.  Then, information about different types of investment accounts is provided.  Finally, there is a 3-step process that can be used to open an account.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Remind students of the advantages of beginning to invest sooner rather than later.
  • Visit the Vanguard (or other investment or brokerage firm websites) for more information.
  • Encourage students to open a mutual fund investment account when they have saved the money needed to begin an investment program.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think people are reluctant to begin investing?
  2. Even though investment companies and brokerage firms make the process as easy as possible, people are often “afraid” to open an account and begin investing. How can you overcome this fear?

Quiz: What’s Your Financial SPF Factor?

“So put aside that beach read for a few minutes and take this quiz to assess your financial SPF factor.”

While most people recognize SPF as standing for sunscreen, SPF–as defined in this article stands for Save, Protect, and Fund.  After a brief explanation of each SPF financial term, the article asks 11 questions that someone can use to help gauge their financial knowledge and financial planning skills.

At the end of the quiz, you are also told how your answers stack up and then the article provides suggestions about how to improve not only your score, but also your ability to plan for your financial future and retirement.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Stress the importance of effective financial planning over your lifetime.
  • Begin a discussion about the benefits of long-term investments.
  • Review time value of money calculations.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can financial planning help you obtain your goals and objectives?
  2. Why should you begin investing sooner rather than later?
  3. A common problem for some people is they don’t have the money they need to begin an investment program. Given your current circumstances, what steps can you take to “find” the money to start an investment program?

Defrauding Investors

On May 28, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced fraud charges against William Quigley.  He is accused of creating a scheme to steal from investors and from a brokerage firm where he worked as the director of compliance.

The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that was involved in a scheme to solicit investors to buy stock in well-known companies or supposed start-ups on the verge of going public.  The SEC alleges that:

  • The securities were never purchased for the investors.
  • Quigley wired the money out of the country or he withdrew it from ATM’s near his home.
  • he had accomplices, two brothers who live in the Philippines.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students prepare a position paper on how to protect themselves from investment fraud.
  • Have students go to the Securities and Exchange Commission website (sec.gov) to learn how SEC protects investors and maintains fair, orderly and efficient markets.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can federal, state, and local governmental agencies protect investors from investment fraud?
  2. What punishment should be meted out to investment fraudsters?

Newly Married with $52,000 of Debt

My Wife and I Never Discussed Money Before Getting Married–and Ended Up with $52,000 of Debt

Prior to tallying up our debt, we’d talked about traveling internationally, starting a family, and, some day retiring comfortably. There was so much we wanted out of life, but . . .”

This is an excellent article that describes what can happen when a soon-to-be-married couple doesn’t talk about finances.  Fortunately, the two people in this article–Deacon and Kim Hayes–realized they had a problem and then took steps to get their finances back on track.

Specific steps this couple took can make a big difference over time.  Among the suggestions included in this article are:

  • Writing down all your assets, debts, income, and expenses.
  • Prepare a budget and review each item for opportunities to save money.
  • Replacing a newer, expensive car with an older car.
  • Selling unwanted or unneeded items online.
  • Using any extra money to repay debt.
  • Establishing an emergency fund.
  • Saving and investing a specific amount each month.

Consider This:  Deacon Hayes–the author of this article–became a financial planner and now shares his story with his clients.

For more information, Click Here

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss why engaged couples need to discuss their finances before they get married.
  • Stress how easy it is to get in debt and how hard and how much time it takes to get out of debt.

Discussion Questions

  1. Assume you are dating someone who seems to spend more than they make. In this situation, would you continue to date this person?  Explain your answer.
  2. One of the suggestions included in this article is that people write down their assets, debts, income, and expenses. How can this suggestion help a young-married couple plan their financial future?
  3. Assume you have credit card debts and an automobile loan that total $75,000. What specific steps can you take to reduce or eliminate your debt?

52-Week Money Challenge

Do you want to take the 52-Week Money Challenge? 

Before saying no, consider it is a simple way to accumulate $1,378 over the next year.  Before saying yes, realize that while it is easy to save small amounts at the beginning of the year, it becomes increasingly harder to save larger amounts at the end of the year on a weekly basis.   Take a look at the table below to see how your money accumulates each week.

 

image source

 

For more information, click here

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to:

  • Stress that even small amounts of money over time can increase the amount available for savings or investing.
  • Discuss how monitoring your spending habits can “find” the money that can be used for savings and investing.
  • Talk about the need for financial discipline when managing, saving, and investing your money.

Discussion Questions

  1. In the above table, you begin by depositing $1 the first week, then each week, the amount you save increases. Where can you find the money needed to fund this type of savings program–especially toward the end of the year?
  2. Assuming you achieved the 52-week challenge and you now have $1,378 dollars in the bank. Would you leave it in the bank, pay your bills, or invest the money?  Justify your choice.
  3. After completing one 52-week challenge, would you take another money challenge? Why or Why Not?