Tag Archives: investments

Online Stock Tips? Buyer Beware.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal on February 4, 2009  about new social networking services that allow users to share investing and trading tips. It is a great way for like minded people to build a community and share ideas. In many ways the idea is not new – we have seen chat rooms, message boards, and the like before. However, these sites operate more like Twitter where messages are limited or truncated to a preset number of characters and people only build ‘followings’ only if they have something of value to say. The idea definitely is progressive and timely as many people are seeking ways to build or rebuild wealth in a deepening recession.

But buyer beware! There are a few things to keep in mind or questions you ask yourself before you throw your money into any investment based on the advice of someone – especially someone you don’t know.

No one knows where this market is headed – let alone any individual stock. The current financial crisis is evidence that not even the pros on Wall Street have a handle on the markets. This could be one of the riskiest times to put your money into the unknown.

Speaking of unknowns, who is providing the information on the stock? What is the track record of this individual? I always seek advice from someone who has been successful in whatever subject they are discussing (not just money). So, if the person dishing out the information retired from an investing career, it might be worth considering. Otherwise, be careful.

Be realistic. We have seen with the Maddoff scandal – and countless other examples – that if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Yes, we have heard this before, but the tough economic times are giving life to more scams and con artists than ever before.

Is the timing right for you? Given how hard the markets and our portfolios have been hit, is now the time to put your hard earned money into ’stock tips’?  We all are eager to make up for our losses, but there is (still) no quick fix. Building wealth is a lifetime endeavor. Don’t get yourself into deeper financial straits by trying to make up for the market meltdown. We all are hurting.

Final thought. Personally, I would rather see my financial or investment adviser tracking and researching the markets. I worry that someone who is texting stock tips or using social networking services may not be focused on the right activities. Markets move rapidly. Information changes even faster. I need and want an informed adviser – not a good sales person.

Copyright FELA, Inc. 2009
Ms. Career Girl, a Financial Education & Literacy Advisers company


Buying Your First Home IS Really Possible!

Today’s guest post is by Eileen McAuslan, a friend of mine who is a Realtor here in Chicago. Eileen takes her career way beyond just showing properties. She explains the math, money, and market trends behind making that huge and scary home purchase, which is part of why I think she is fabulous! In this post, Eileen gives hopes to those of us who would like to buy our first home.

By, Eileen McAuslan

In addition to your resolution to get fit & eat healthier, if you don’t own your own home, why not add “save 11for a down payment” to your list of resolutions? Once you hear what I have to say, it might be a resolution that you actually keep! A smart, sexy, & savvy career girl should also know that there are many benefits to buying a home this year:

The IRS is offering up to a $7500 refundable tax credit for first time home buyers. You repay this as an interest-free loan over the course of 15 years and don’t have to repay it if you don’t sell the home for a profit! This is only good for home purchases through July 2009, though, so time is ticking! Click here for more info on this program.

If you qualify for an FHA loan, you only need a 3.5% down payment and interest rates are STILL LOW.

In many areas, median home prices are hovering around 2002 prices. 2002! That’s like zapping back in time to buy your home!

Prices have fallen but the supply is still out there! You’ll have plenty of places to look at and you can take your pick of the litter!

Now, I know, the big question on your mind is – how much is it going to cost me monthly when I own a home? Isn’t it cheaper to rent? Here is my answer based on the Lakeview area of Chicago761628505_7bb260107c_m – the area I am most familiar with but also a more expensive area than most non-metropolitan areas.

Here, you can buy a 1 bedroom condo for $200,000 or less.

Let’s say you get a 30 year fixed FHA loan at 6% on a $175,000 condo (you get a slightly higher interest rate for a FHA loan which allows for a lower down payment). You put down 3.5% or $6,125.

The monthly mortgage payment on your new condo including PMI will be roughly $1000.
Now, for the “extras”:

The monthly assessments are $150 and cover exterior maintenance, water/waste, lawn care, and common insurance.
Property taxes will be about $2500 this year.
Condo insurance will be about $300 a year.

All of this will cost you under $1500/month!

For someone outside of Chicago, that might sound pricey, but keep in mind that 1BR condos easily rent for $1500 or more in this area. And don’t forget, when you are paying down a mortgage, you are building equity – which you are definitely NOT doing when you rent.

This is just the beginning of all of the information there is to know about buying a home… attend my home buyer info session or contact me for more!

Tues Jan 27 at 6pm
1840 N Clark St. in Chicago

RSVP to the info session or contact me anytime at eileen.mcauslan@cbexchange.com.

Happy Househunting!

Eileen McAuslan is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Chicago and the author of the blog www.chiBLOGoillinois.blogspot.com. Check out her property listings at www.homehuntchicago.com.