This month’s issue features our Best of Web Guide, which starts here. In putting it together, we looked closely at both websites we included last year and websites we excluded. Though often the best websites stayed on top of their game, there were instances when another website was more worthy of inclusion. For example, in the investing videos section, we added Bloomberg and removed Yahoo! Finance.
In some cases, the decision about what to exclude was made for us. In particular, Dow Jones shut down SmartMoney.com earlier this year. SmartMoney.com was one of our favorite websites, listed in many of our Web guide’s categories, and we were sad to see it go. What looks good to the user or the consumer may not always mesh to a company’s financial and strategic goals—something to consider when analyzing the business model of a stock you are considering for purchase.
The guide also contains lists of the websites and online tools that John Bajkowski, Wayne Thorp, Joe Lan and I personally use. I kept my list to the (mostly free) websites I use for stock analysis. The truth of the matter, however, is that I could have written a much longer and more extensive list of online resources that I use with regularity. I’ll share one of them with you now: Google Docs (docs.google.com).
I’ve been increasingly making use of Google Docs, particularly its spreadsheet, over the past two years. I use this online tool to keep track of news items pertaining to the stocks I follow. I like Google Docs not only because I can access it on any Internet-enabled device, but also because I can copy and paste information and URLs from the articles I read.
Google Docs is not a necessity for effective portfolio management. In fact, I think a spiral notebook is an even better tool for most people because of its sheer simplicity. There are other options too, including a white board, a pad of paper or a Word document. It really doesn’t matter what you use, so long as you get thoughts and details about your portfolio out of your head and written down somewhere. Keeping a written record of your rules for buying, your rules for selling, your target allocations and the reasons why you made each investment will have a significant impact on your performance—more so than any online tool or website.
It is also a good idea to keep track of how your investments are evolving over time. Using individual stocks as an example, maintain a record of news events, sales and earnings trends, valuations and management’s comments. If you do this, you will increase the odds of identifying positive or negative trends before they get priced in. It won’t work 100% of the time, but it will work often enough to make the effort worth your while.
There are two other articles in this month’s issue I want to call your attention to. The first is the second in a three-part series on Social Security by William Reichenstein and William Meyer of Social Security Solutions, a service that provides personalized recommendations as to when to claim Social Security benefits. The authors discuss the topic of when single individuals should start claiming benefits. As they explain, the answer depends on an individual’s life expectancy. In simple terms, the longer past 80 you expect to live, the more postponing claiming benefits until age 70 makes sense. Though this month’s article is oriented toward singles, it also contains useful guidance for couples. The article starts here.
The second is AAII Founder and Chairman James Cloonan’s latest Model Fund Portfolio update. In response to member requests, Jim set up a subset portfolio of the exchange-traded funds (here.. The Pure ETF Portfolio contains all of the ETFs held in the larger portfolio, but with specific weightings for each of the five funds used. While lacking some of the strategies and diversification advantages of the larger portfolio, it is an option for those who prefer ETFs. Learn more about it
Wishing you prosperity
Charles Rotblut, CFA
Editor, AAII Journal