Personal Finance Resources

So in an effort to try and think of how to talk about the many topics that encompass personal finance, I’ve found it difficult as to where to really start.

The truth is there are so many resources already out there dedicated to helping people making make the best financial decisions, whether it’s buying versus renting a home, the best way to pay off student debt, whether to buy new versus a used car, the best stock investing strategies, or just general savings tips and strategies.

So what I’ve decided to do instead is put down a few resources people can check to start if they want help in certain areas. I could spend my time re-hashing what’s already been said, but I don’t see that as a productive use of your time when I don’t have the experience to talk to a lot of the issues. While I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in personal finance, there’s still a lot I have to learn.

So I’ll go with a few resources I use for my personal finance. There’s a vast wealth of information out there, so it’s not the only areas I go to. Hopefully this is a starter on places to look.

The Easiest Resource – Google.com

I realize this might seem pretty intuitive, but if you’d rather do your own hunting, this is the place to start. Got a question about the stock market? Google “how to invest in the stock market?” and you’ve got a wealth of good information.

General Personal Finance

Kiplingerhttp://www.kiplinger.com/

I recently got a subscription to Kiplinger magazine and it’s been a great general resource for personal finance. It’s routinely rated as a great go-to resource for general personal finance topics. There’s also plenty of topics you can read for free on their website in regards to investing, retirement planning, debt management, and savings. This is a great all encompassing resource for general personal finance.

Money Sensehttp://www.moneysense.ca/

This one is for my Canadian friends. It’s a great resource for everything personal finance relating to Canada. This one is similar to Kiplinger, however it differs as it only focuses on personal finance topics and how they relate to Canada, so for instance any topics on mortgages or taxes will be with respect to Canadian rules and regulations.

For example: They’re reference RRSPs, not IRAs. They’ll reference TFSAs, not Roth IRAs. Then tax rules are with respect to the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency), not the IRS.

Investing Books

The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham

This is one of the best resources for value investing you can find in paperback. Warren Buffet has indicated that this has been one of the best resources he’s used to build his financial empire. The book uses case studies that focus on companies that are considered value stocks, which is basically another way of saying getting the best bang for your buck in terms of purchasing stocks. One of the main takeaways is to look at the price to earnings ratio (I.e. take the price of the stock and divide it by the “earnings per share” to get the price to earnings, or P.E. ratio). This lets you see how many dollars are you paying per dollar of earnings in the company?

There’s obviously a lot more than just the P.E. ratio, but the book gives a great subset of signs to look for. It’s a very old book, but new versions have updated examples that show where value investing would have paid off. (Remember, past performance is no guarantee of future returns.)

Stock investing for Dummies – Paul Mladjenovic

I read a Canadian version of this book a while back, but like any “For Dummies” book, they are a great resource for beginners. They provide a wealth of information for places to start, and don’t necessarily need to be read in a sequential fashion.

Here’s a link to a quick cheat sheet if you’re looking for a quick look at some tips for stock investing.

Financial Calculators

Bank Ratehttp://www.bankrate.com/

I’ve found as I do my endless research on what an affordable mortgage would be for me, Bank Rate provides a great easy to use mortgage calculator that lets you quickly see what your expected payment would be based on rates around your region. They also have other calculators for things such as automotive loans, student loans, credit cards, and personal loans.

General Finance Questions/Knowledgebase

Investopediahttp://www.investopedia.com/

I’ve found Investopedia to be a great resource for any general questions or financial terms I don’t understand.

For example: You can buy stocks and options on the stock market. What is a stock? What is an option? Investopedia will give you a great breakdown of both and put it in terms that make it understandable a what each actually is and the pros and cons of both.

The Takeaway

I hope this at least provides a start to finding some places to look for information if you’re interested in personal finance or investment. I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t follow through on my plan to start providing financial articles, but it’s an area where I believe there are many resources out there and many people that are better equipped to answer questions than I can.

In the future I hope to provide information on topics I feel I’m a little more knowledgeable on. While I’d like to think I have a good grasp on personal finance, I’ll let the expert resources answer your inquiries. 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

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The Next Focus Point: Money!

Ever since I’ve built my Keezer, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from doing anything that this blog was really meant to detail. Other than some other beer batches (2 wheat beers, an IPA and an Oktoberfest) I haven’t done much in terms of electronics, photography, or other projects. My summer has been occupied by work, a couple vacations and the insatiable need to get outside. So anything electronics related has taken a back seat. Also, now that school has started back up, I see my free down going further down the tubes. Sadly, my Arduino and Beaglebone Black will be gathering dust 😦

Lately however, I’ve been focusing on money. The truth is that I’m a budget-aholic (I’m pretty sure this word doesn’t exist). I’ve spent copious amounts of time trying to plan my monthly finances, forecast my expenses for upcoming months, and plan my overall financial status for the future based on my current circumstances. I have quite the detailed spreadsheets I use for determining my forecasted expenses and income. What’s nice about forecasting to such detail is that it lets me understand what my ability to save and invest is.

Some of the next big milestones in my financial future include purchasing a home, building a car, building a large garage/man cave and quite possibly building a kick ass home theater. By kick ass, I mean theatre style, little to no ambient light, 12 ft screen, and massive speakers that make the house shake. Try to imagine the full immersive experience of Master and Commander, feeling the rumble as the sound of the cannon balls from the Acheron hit the Surprise in the opening battle of the movie. At least it sounds cool today, give it a month and I’ll convince myself the cost is too much.

home-theatre-design-home-theater-living-room-ideas-1306-x-870
Who wouldn’t want something like this in the basement?? (Source)

As fun as it sounds to talk about these things, I begin to die inside as I pencil out realistically how much these things are likely to cost. One of my other interests in life is building an investment portfolio. I’ve starting one and I’ve done ok, but everything I’ve read indicates that starting early and being disciplined with investing is the best strategy to building a secure portfolio that will build it’s value over time. Time can be your best friend or your worst enemy, because the later you start to build a portfolio, the less time you have to grow it. Even just with savings, it’s been shown time and time again that the earlier you start saving, the more you gain from compounding interest rates.

So therein lies the dilemma that is James Lindeman. I have quite the imagination in terms of projects to take on, but I’m kept at bay because of my desire to maintain financial security. This usually means my desire to save and reduce my outstanding debt puts the kibosh on lavish purchases and large projects.

There’s a lot of debate as to what’s a good purchase versus what’s a bad purchase. There’s also a lot of debate as to the best way to go about planning your financial future. There’s multiple ways of doing it, it really depends on the person and what’s important to them.

For the next couple of months, I’m going to be focusing on a number of topics that I’ve been thinking about lately. This ranges from buying a house, investing in the stock market, types of investing, budgeting, debt payoff, savings, and many other things. While a lot of it may be common knowledge, I want to at least get some of my ideas. Considering my next couple of months will likely not include any large purchases, it’ll be my main focus point.

Thanks for reading!