Archive for May 2008

PODCAST: I Was Broke. Now I’m Not.

I do not know if you have checked out the "I Was Broke. Now I'm Not." podcast recently, but perhaps you should.

Top Five Reasons to check out the podcast

  1. It averages seven minutes in length.  Never longer than ten minutes.
  2. I always answer a question asked by one of the readers.
  3. I always share a success story sent in by one of the readers.
  4. It is free.
  5. You might hear me yell, holler, and scream because I am so FIRED UP about what is happening through this crusade!

To subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, click HERE.  If you do not have iTunes, you can download a mp3 by clicking HERE.

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STANDINGS: Mutual Fund You Pick ‘Em Game [thru 5/23]

Here are the standings for the Mutual Fund "You Pick 'Em" Game with just one week remaining.

Michael M. has retained the lead, but took a hit over the past week and a couple of the competitors have closed the gap. 

Judy's mutual fund selection, China Bear 2X Fund, has demonstrated what investing in a true international growth fund is like.  In week one, it was #2 on the list.  In week two, it dropped all of the way to #20.  Now, it is back to #2!  This is why I define an investment as money that I will leave alone for at least five years!  I would have a heart attack if I was day-trading a fund like Judy's choice!

John X has closed the gap to hold #3 position after holding the #6 position the previous two weeks. 

It is going to be a lot of fun to watch the performance over this last week to see who wins!

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STANDINGS: Mutual Fund You Pick ‘Em Game [thru 5/16]

Here are the standings at the midway point of the exciting Mutual Fund "You Pick 'Em" Game.

Michael M. is absolutely CRUSHING the competition with the Direxion Latin America Bull 2X Inv. with a whopping 18.0% return IN JUST 16 DAYS.  This is exactly why I say that investing is for the long term.  Once can not really pinpoint when an investment is going to make huge gains, but the money needs to be there when it happens.

The biggest loss of the week is Judy who dropped all the way from #2 to dead last with the China Bear 2X Fund.  The most improved is Unnamed #1 who ventured from dead last to vault seven other competitors.

Overall, the returns indicate an overall market that is growing nicely.  I must say that it has been much more pleasing to view the Sangl Family mutual fund account balances in recent weeks!

I really believe that it is important for folks to have exposure to the wide variety of mutual funds that are available.  I hope that this contest is helping you learn more about the mutual fund markets and investing in general.

Has there been a particular mutual fund or funds that has caught your attention?

So, there are NINE more trading days.  Will Michael M. hold his lead or will Andy C. erase the lead and win the huge Mutual Fund "You Pick 'Em" Game Prize? 

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529 Plan Series: Virginia College Savings Plan

Today, I review another state's 529 college savings plan as part of the 529 Plan Series at!

Let me introduce you to the Virginia College Savings Plan. 

This 529 plan is managed by one of my favorite mutual fund companies – American Funds.

What I Like About The Virginia College Savings Plan

  • CollegeAmerica.  This is the partnership between the Virginia College Savings Plan and American Funds.  You can read about it in detail HERE.  I really like American Funds' mutual fund offerings.
  • Choices.  American Funds offers 22 different mutual funds as part of the CollegeAmerica plan.  You can also choose to put together a selection of the 22 different mutual funds and take an age-based approach toward your investment.
  • Low Initial Investment Requirement.  You only need $250 to get started with the CollegeAmerica plan.  That makes this available to everyone!
  • State Tax Deduction for Virginia Taxpayers.  If you are a Virginia resident and contribute to this fund, you are most likely eligible to deduct those contributions from your state taxes!  Virginia residents are allowed to deduct up to $2,000 PER ACCOUNT per year with unlimited carryforwards.  NICE!

What I Would Like To See Improved

  • This is a general improvement that I would like to see with all 529 plans, not just the Virginia College Savings Plan.  I would really like to see contributions to ANY state's plan be DEDUCTIBLE from one's own state taxes.  I know.  I know.  I am dreaming again, BUT it would really provide a huge incentive for states to have a great and competitive 529 plan.

Read reviews of other state 529 college savings plans HERE.

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The Mutual Fund Series: Fidelity Investments

The is the latest installment in the weekly series featured at – The Mutual Fund Series.

During each part of this weekly series, I will be looking at a specific mutual fund company.

Today's company is Fidelity Investments.

Fidelity Investments is a very large full-service investment company.  They manage over three hundred mutual funds and offer a variety of services.  Some of the services they provide include retirement plan management and discount brokerage services.

What I Like About Fidelity Investments

  • Options.  Lots of them.  With over three hundred mutual fund options, I can be certain that I can always find a fund that suits my investment goals.
  • Target Retirement Funds.  Along with Vanguard, Fidelity is a leading provider of target retirement funds.  They call their target retirement funds "Freedom Funds".  Target retirement funds are mutual funds that have a set retirement year attached to them.  As the targeted retirement year approaches, the fund portfolio will be automatically shifted toward a more conservative mix.  This is a really nice feature for those people who do not want to actively manage their retirement savings.
  • Full-service Investment Company.  I like companies that are well-rounded and can meet all of my personal investment needs.
  • On-Line Capability.  I have a 401(k) from a previous employer that I have left with Fidelity.  I have left it with Fidelity for a variety of reasons, but one reason is that I really like their on-line capabilities.  With a single click, I can see the total value of my investments, the individual return of each mutual fund, and the year-to-date performance of my overall portfolio.  I like that (but only when it tells me double-digit POSITIVE growth!).

What I Would Like To See Improved At Fidelity Investments

  • Lower "initial investment required".  Most of Fidelity's funds require an initial investment of $2,500.  This really blocks out beginning investors.  This requirement is usually removed when investing in mutual funds via a company 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan.  However, there are a lot of people who do not have access to such a company retirement plan, and it would be very helpful if Fidelity lowered the initial investment required to $250 (like American Funds).

Fidelity Investment Mutual Funds That I Own

  • ZERO.

Fidelity Investment Mutual Funds That I Am Considering Purchasing

  • Fidelity Magellan Fund [Ticker: FMAGX]  It has been around since 1963, has generated a 18.09% average annual return, and has a lower expense ratio (0.54%).

What Fidelity Mutual Funds do you own?

Read about the other mutual fund companies reviewed as part of the Mutual Fund Series HERE.

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