Friday, August 26, 2011

Change Is A-Comin'...

Haven't posted anything in a while (except for the previous Random Blathering).  Fact is, I've been working on expanding The Affordable Portfolio.  It's been my dream to make TAP more than a blog.  The blog just seemed to be a good jumping off point.  I'll still post an article here and there, just not as often.

"It's Not 2008," BUT...

The talking heads at CNBC and Fox Business have developed a disturbing habit.  Lately they want to bandy about the same phrase over and over again: "This is not 2008."  True, last time I checked my calendar, it said "2011".

Of course they are referring to the year of the housing collapse, the debacle that really crippled our economy.  Banks were lending money to people so they could buy houses they shouldn't have been buying to begin with.  The banks weren't happy with just collecting payments on the resulting mortgages, so they bundled them up and sold them to each other.  The payments slow to a crawl, pandemonium breaks out.  The mortgage bundles are now worthless.  They litter the financial landscape to this day after several long-standing institutions have disappeared from the face of the earth.

The recap above is over-simplified, but since this is a Random Blathering, I am trying to keep this post short.  The point I am trying to make is this:  Sure, it's not 2008 anymore, but we are still feeling its effects in 2011.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ConocoPhillips Stock Purchase Plan

This next Portfolio Pick is a stock that can be bought from the company.  Many companies today offer shares of their stock this way.  Their fees can be cheaper than if you had bought from a broker.  This is one of them.  I introduce to you the ConocoPhillips Stock Purchase Plan (COP).

Station selling ConocoPhillips branded gas.  Photo taken by the author.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ally Bank No Penalty CD

Cash is king.  Every portfolio should have some portion of it dedicated to cash.  That is why for my latest Portfolio Pick I'm going to highlight the Ally Bank No Penalty CD.

Ally Bank advertisement featuring the No Penalty CD.  Video embedded from Ally Bank's YouTube channel.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Blues In The Key Of AA+

It's official:  the country is being run by Standard & Poor's.  It's not being run by somebody in the Oval Office, nor 535 squabbling and bickering politcos, but some division of a major publishing company.  Replacing the third "A" with a "plus" will definitely have an impact on this nation for years to come.

Will Moody's ally with the S&P and form a cartel?

Following The Bouncing Dow

It definitely was a bizarre end to a bizarre week.  "Buyers vs. Sellers" was the theme for the day.  When the dust settled, the Dow finished higher.  I don't think the buyers won this round.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Amana Growth Fund

It's time for Portfolio Pick number two.  I present you with a growth fund that invests in large companies.  This fund is not like the other large growth funds on the market, however.  I am talking about the Amana Growth Fund (AMAGX).

Performance of the Amana Growth Fund (in blue) vs. the S&P 500 Index (in green) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (in red).  Graph captured from Yahoo! Finance (8/5/2011).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Never Mind...

The Dow had a one-game winning streak.  It's over now.  It didn't just lose, it got spanked.  There have been bigger point losses in the past (this loss ranks at number 9 on the list).  Percentage wise, it pales in comparison to Black Monday (-4.31 vs. -22.61).  What does makes this loss troublesome is the fact that it came the day after it bounced back after eight straight defeats.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Out Of The Woods Yet?

The Dow managed to end its losing streak at eight straight sessions.  If it had finished lower today, it would have marked the first nine-straight-day loss since 1978.  Back then, Jimmy Carter was leader of our country (it would be about another year before the infamous Malaise Speech).  The general public was introduced to unusual economic terms like "stagflation" and "misery index".  Can the DJIA be starting a new streak?

Homestead Small-Company Stock Fund

Here it is, my first Portfolio Pick.  I must say I really thought about playing it safe.  "Start off with an index fund" I thought to myself.  So I went through my list of affordable investments looking for such a fund.  This little gem caught my eye; I couldn't pass it up.  So I decided to go another direction and kick off Portfolio Picks with the Homestead Small-Company Stock Fund (HSCSX).

 Performance of the Homestead Small-Company Stock Fund (in blue) vs. the Russell 2000 Index (in green) and the S&P 500 Index (in red).  Graph captured from Yahoo! Finance (8/3/2011).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Out Of The Frying Pan...

So our government pulled its head out of the proverbial a** and finally got a deal in place.  Now can it avoid a possible downgrade in its debt from the "scary" S&P and Moody's?  S&P did downgrade Japan back in January, and frankly the earthquakes and tsunamis did more damage to that country than the agency ever could.

Introducing The Affordable Portfolio - Investments Anyone Can Buy

Sometimes I think that those in the world of financial media live under a rock.  They have this assumption that the general public has a sizeable wad of cash to plow into the market.  They'll put out a magazine article advising you to ADD THESE FUNDS TO YOUR PORTFOLIO NOW!!!  The problem is many of these investments require anywhere from 3 to 10 thousand dollars just to get in.  Sorry, but not all of us make six figures a year.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Before I Begin...

Here it is, one day before our government could default on its debt, and I'm starting a personal finance blog?  Is it bad timing?  Am I nuts?  However this game of "congressional chicken" plays out, I'll stick to my mission.  I will return with my first full post explaining this site's purpose.

Stay tuned...