3 Investing Takeaways Before I See Ya in September!

We have a few weeks left before it’s “back to school” and “back to work,” and thus I’m saying goodbye for the remaining weeks of summer. Yup, I work hard to play hard and it’s break time.

I told you that I’m all about an Olympian attitude, and it’s time to finish strong.

So, I figured I’d leave you with 3 takeaways before I head out: 

  1. Stock Trifecta – Last week, all three major indices reached new heights on the same day last week. And, by major, I mean the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq Composite, and the S&P 500 Index. Forget what these mean? No worries – check out my video on the stock market. 

    Why should you care? Because you should be thinking about how your portfolio has been doing and whether you should rebalance or taking profits somewhere. Remember, stocks don’t continue to go up forever. Most people, including myself, are horrible at timing the market and thus, staying disciplined on rebalancing is key. 

  2. Is Facebook Really Worth an Investment? Yes, Zuckerberg has been all over the news for his desire to put an Oculus on all 1.7 BILLION Facebook users. If you missed the Bloomberg article about it, check it out here. I spent some time with my mother’s investment club over the last month and they weighed the pros and cons of investing more money into this one (Don’t worry – I got permission to write about it). 

    Before you start pondering whether you want to invest in the individual stock, check out your current mutual funds or ETFs and see if you already own Facebook shares. Many people want to own the stock outright, but you might benefit from the diversification that comes with owning Facebook as part of a larger portfolio. 

  3. My Roboadvisor Account Disappointed. In last week’s post on the Rio Olympics, I told you that I would let you know the results of my 1-year use of the roboadvisor Betterment. I analyzed the results and it is clear that I underperformed the S&P 500 Index over the same time period even though I held 90% stocks and 10% bonds. 

    When I dug deeper, a big reason that I didn’t keep up is that my portfolio had some international stock exposure (shall I remind you of Brexit???). More alarming is that account FEEs ate up some of my returns. Because I only invested $50 per month, I had to pay $3 per month in fees. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s 6% ($3 divided by $50) of my monthly investment – Yikes! I have yet to get a hold of Betterment’s customer service, but when I do, we will walk through the details.

My recommendation? If you’re going to use Betterment, auto-deposit at least $100 per month so that the annual fee is 0.35% on assets.

Well, it’s been real this summer. I hope you get your break on and enjoy time with family and friends. And, if you have a good money book that you want to recommend to me, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. I’m going to need lots to reading material on long my trip to Japan in a few weeks.

Enjoy Labor Day, and I’ll be back in mid-Setpember!

How To Be An Olympic Champion With Your Money

Happy Tuesday! I know – you are use to me giving you a shout on Monday evenings, but I thought you might need some inspiration in the middle of the day. I AM an Olympian….One who embodies the spirit of the Olympic games (haha – don’t hurt me). True badass, right?

I am all pumped up because the summer Olympics kicked off this past weekend.  Two of my favorite athletes this year are Simone Biles (who is the TRUTH) and Kerri Walsh Jennings (who is back to try and secure her 4th gold). I cannot help but to be inspired by these athletes.

We all could use an Olympian attitude when it comes to investing because the process is the same – set some goals, work toward them, and eventually hit the mark. We often never see the YEARS of work it takes to get to that stage, but it is there. Well, I want to share with a few places you might be able to put in work over the next few months for your portfolio…..

A few places to put in work:

  1. Check those portfolios. The market continues to soar to new heights, as demonstrated over the past few weeks. Continue to evaluate your entire portfolio, figure out whether you need to rebalance, and/or find out if you’re due for a check-in with your financial advisor. You want to make sure you’re set up for success to ride the waves of the market upswings and protect from the downsides of market turbulence.
  2. Look into a roboadvisor account.  Remember, I talk about how to take advantage of roboadvisors in my series. I just finished a year in Betterment and I will share my analysis next week. For all you fellow roboadvisor investees, leave a comment below.
  3. Find out if your 401k has a brokerage window. Yup, this acts like a self-directed brokerage account, where you have more options than the standard line-item options. There are pros and cons to using a brokerage window, but the biggest thing to know is that research has shown that more options does NOT lead better returns and you can still pay hefty fees. Nonetheless, some of you expressed interest, so hit me up if you have additional questions.

Wrap up 

Let’s not kid ourselves – these 2016 Olympians are gunning for the gold and as one commentator put it, “Coming in 4th just sucks.”

The beauty of having an Olympian attitude for your money is that your biggest competitor is yourself.  Yup, why I’m a big fan of others helping to make us better, you still have to run your own race and set the vision for yourself.

Go Get Em!

How the Upcoming Election is Going to Effect Your Money

Last week, I was full of emotion as I listened to our President and First Lady at the Democratic National Convention. In my political conversations with family and friends, we often talk about whether or not we’ll be any happier with a new President in office. Trust me, you don’t want to read our family emails – they are fierce!

Regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, I think their speeches were as patriotic as one can get. And, I had to wipe my eyes during President Obama’s call for us to do our part.

Well, my part involves continuing to spread the gospel on all things leading to greater economic prosperity – wealth-building! 

So, as we enter less than 100 days to before our elections, I’ve been asked a very salient question – what impact will the election have on my portfolio and the stocks that I own?

My response – let’s see what the data says. From this Kiplinger’s article, here are a few things to keep in mind and some of them might surprise you:

1.  “Since 1833, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has returned an average of 10.4% in the year before a presidential election, and nearly 6%, on average, in the election year. By contrast, the first and second years of a president’s term see average gains of 2.5% and 4.2%, respectively.” – The data speaks truth on what we can potentially expect.

2. “When it comes to your portfolio, it doesn’t matter much which party wins the White House” – we shouldn’t focus on who wins.

3. “The stock market has an uncanny ability to predict who will call the White House home for the next four years. If the stock market is up in the three months leading up to the election, put your money on the incumbent party. Losses over those three months tend to usher in a new party.” – Oh wow!

What to Do?

I want to encourage you, before you start trying to figure out how the election is going to help/hurt your portfolio, to ask yourself: have I taken care of the essentials?

  1. Looked at your 401k/403b plan and made any necessary rebalancing decisions
  2. Revisited your 2016 plan and figured out whether you’re on track
  3. Checked in with your partner/significant other on what might have changed in the last 6 months.

In case you missed it:

Fear is the number one thing keeping people from investing in the stock market. The only way to get over that fear is to face it. In the “So You Think You Know the Stock Market" episode of Charisse Says that was featured on the Make It Better website, I break down exactly how the stock market works in a fun digestible way. I hope the knowledge you will gain from the video will help you face your fears and start investing.

Think you don’t have enough money to start investing? Check out the Words & Money podcast hosted by Tess Wicks that I was a guest on. During the podcast I explain that you can start investing even if you have less than $1,000 to spend.

What do you have to say? Leave a comment below.

3 Reflections After Being in the Boonies of PA

It’s Monday and July is in full swing ---oh my! I missed you last week on July 4th as I was in the countryside of Pennsylvania on a much-needed vacay.  I was in the Boonies!!! One of my cousins got married, and I cherished the time with family, especially ahead of the harsh week we had as a country.  I am out of words.

Perhaps you were on vacation too? If not, then you better get yours soon. It’s amazing what a recharge does for the mind and body. It gave me the opportunity to take a step back and reflect.

And, here’s a few reflections to help get your money and investments right for the next few months.

3 Reflections After Being in the Boonies of PA:

  1. The markets have come roaring back. After the Brexit debacle, the stock market has returned to previous Brexit levels. I added to my ETF positions when the market was down. I didn’t time it perfectly, but I got it in. Share any actions (or inactions) you took over the past week in the comment box below. Have you caught what’s also happening in the bond market? Well, bond yields are at their lowest level ever. You might be saying ---- who cares? I do and I’ll show you why you should too. Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter and I’ll explain why.
  1. Save for the vacation before you go. One strategy to employ is to accumulate your vacation money before you actually take the vacation. My husband and I saved the money for the hotel, food, rental car, and wedding gifts before we left, and so we could spend the money guilt-free. 
  1. Everyone needs a check-in. Staying on top of your money situation is tough, even for the most meticulous person or couple. It’s the mid-year mark and it’s important that you reassess where you are with your 2016 badass money goals. I sure did this past week. Go on’, take a look.  Ask yourself these 3 questions:
    1. Do you need to readjust your investing and savings strategy?
    2. What’s changed in your circumstance that might also affect your money situation?
    3. What tools can you use to help keep you on track?

Be Great

Serena Williams, the best tennis player to ever grace the court, won her 22nd grand slam singles title and her 14th grand slam doubles title (with my girl Venus Williams) on Saturday! Serena performed at an exceptionally high level and I want to challenge you to tune-in to your inner Serena when it comes to your finances – “Com ‘ON” – you have little choice BUT to be great.

Enjoy the week,


P.S. – Know someone who needs a “Boonies effect”? Share this newsletter with them so they can get their A-game on when it comes to their money! 

Trust Yourself Before you Brexit

In case you missed it, the markets were just horrible today. Don’t look  – most of the stocks are in the red. Unless you were hiding under a rock (hey – no judgment, I get under a rock sometimes too), I’m sure that you now know that on June 23rd, British voters approved a referendum to leave (or exit) the European Union (EU), hence Brexit. We touched on this very briefly last week. Here’s what’s important to me when I think about the effect on the stock market:

  • European banks crash – really bad for European markets, and the impact is surely tied to global markets and thus US downward spiral
  • The British pound (currency that is) fell to its lowest level in decades – currency markets heavily affected (and now it will be cheaper to go to London)
  • Prime Minister, David Cameron, who supported the UK remaining in the EU, announced he will step down in October of 2016 – political instability leads to market fears
  • The US Federal Reserve will probably not raise interest rates any time soon – stock market gets very jittery

Notice the common theme? Markets are crashing around us. It will take time for the markets to figure this one out.

All of the chatter can make you feel as if the best place for your money is in a savings account.

Trust me, flocking to safety is a direct result of fear. Flocking to safety can sound appealing in the short-term, but over the long-term, sticking to an investment philosophy that can withstand market turbulence is key.

Now, “short-term” and “long-term” mean different things to different people, so I’ll let you decide what’s best for you. One of the best pieces of advice I got is when I was working at JPMorgan and picking stocks for a living, came from my portfolio manager (thanks, Jonathan), and he said to me – “Charisse, in times of market uncertainty, sometimes you got to wait it out and sometimes you got to seize opportunity.” His words ring true today.

So, before you BREX yourself from the market (or exit), check in with your financial advisor, revisit your investment philosophy, and develop a plan to wait or act.

Top 10 Charisse Sayings Over the Past Year

I promised you I’d get you my top 10 rules to live by, which I’ve accumulated over the past year. In honor of the one-year anniversary, I want to share these with you. After all, I do care about you.  

  1. Be the CEO of your money – Your true badass self
  2. Don’t be afraid of the stock market – it has historically returned almost 7% per year annually
  3. Make someone else hold you accountable, your Money COO
  4. Always date your financial advisor
  5. Allocate less than 20% of your gross income to debt repayments
  6. Take advantage of dollar-for-dollar matching when offered by your employer.
  7. You can invest outside of your 401k on your own – brokerage account and/orroboadvisor is a good option
  8. You cannot time the market - Don’t try
  9. Get a Roth IRA if you can swing it
  10. Diversify your portfolio and get low-fee products to help boost your returns over time

Happy week! Keep that head up.

The 1 Year Mark

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of the Charisse Says platform. Woot Woot! I could not have made it thus far without your continued interest in reading my newsletters, watching the Charisse Says show, leaving comments on my blog, and feedback to always make the platform better. More importantly, I am confident that in these last 365 days, you took one action to improve your money situation, albeit investing boldly or taking action in some other way. Our 1-year anniversary couldn’t have come at a better time – right on the heels of Father’s Day. Shout out to all the Dads out there and I hope your loved ones treated you kindly. My father, Frank Conanan, is one-of-a-kind and I would be remiss if I didn’t share one piece of money advice he gave me. He said “Charisse, never let your head get too big from financial success that you forget about where you came from.”

I know, wise right? [Thanks, Daddy!]

Over the years, my father’s wisdom has meant a few things to me:

  1. When you have financial successes, remember what it is was like without it
  2. Continue to diligently evaluate your financial opportunities
  3. Others around you might not be in the same boat, so share what you have with them

I hope this advice is as helpful to you as it’s been to me. Onward!

Celebrating the 1-Year

In order to celebrate the one-year in true Charisse fashion, I am going to send my Top 10 Investing Philosophies from the past year next week. Yes, a wrap-up of all things I’ve tried to share over the past year all in one place. If you’re learned anything from me, please let me know what you’re favorite investing tip has been.

The Past Week

If you missed out on any of the big financial news this past week, here’s a few pieces that have might have implications for you:

  1. Brexit – The Brits are pushing in favor of leaving the EU. And, stocks are all over the place on the news. Pay attention? Yes, but this won’t effect your individual holdings much.
  2. Marisa Mayer in Trouble – Yup, the Yahoo CEO was caught out there making side deals. Are you a Yahoo investor, or does your 401k hold a competitor to Yahoo? Pay attention.
  3. Warriors Lose – I am a Warriors fan and it pained me to see them fall to the Cavs. I now must ask myself, will Nike or Under Armour benefit? Remember when we talked about the effect that Steph Curry has on Under Armour’s stock price.

Feel Free to Join Me

This Saturday, June 25th, I will be speaking on the topic of making your money work for you through investing at Conversation Magazine's The Investments Brunch in Chicago. If you’re in town, I’d love for you to join me.

My Heart Is Heavy

Yes, it is true – my heart is still heavy as I reflect on yesterday’s Orlando massacre. Outrage? Yes. Sadness? Yes. Helpless? Yes. Silent? No.

As someone who frequented many clubs during my late teens (shhh….don’t tell my Mom) and during my 20s in NYC, I think –“that could have been me.” I hope and pray that you and your family have been spared any personal association.

Like you, I feel like I’ve had too many “heavy heart” days over the last couple of years. 

On one hand, these moments make it hard to think about investing and money.  On the other hand, these moments compel us to support causes financially, protect ourselves from unforeseen events by getting insurance, and/or make us want to leave a financially legacy for those coming after us.

Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, go with what feels right for you.  Leave a comment on my blog and let me know where you stand, if you feel so move.

With that, we’ll pick back up next week!



5 Steps to Turn Your Financial Pain into Power

As we continue to mourn the loss of Muhammad Ali, one of the most prolific athletes and fearless leaders of our time, I am reminded of his charm and wisdom – so infectious. This quote of his sticks out:

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”

Powerful, right?

Well, we can all take a page from Ali’s approach of turning defeat (and the pain that accompanies it) into power.

This is especially relevant when it comes to your money. Everyone goes through financial pain, and it is no joke. I experienced this most recently when one of my stocks, GoPro (Ticker: GPRO), went into the toilet. I said it – the stock is down 30% since the beginning of the year. PAINFUL as I see the red ink signaling that I have lost money! (Remember – I haven’t sold the stock yet so it still is a paper loss.)

So, what is one to do when pain comes your way as it has come mine?

5 Steps to Turn Financial Pain Into Power 

  1. Acknowledge the financial pain to yourself.  As easy as it is to curl into a ball, resist this temptation. One way to do this is to focus on what’s going right in your portfolio and recognize that it’s not all bad. Whether your pain comes from a bad stock or loss of income, acceptance is first.
  2. Share your financial pain with others who care. Notice I said those who care.Your trusted friends and family need to know what’s keeping you down. I trust you!
  3. Revisit your financial goal. You must ask yourself why you invested in a position and whether those reasons still hold up.
  4. Make a decision to mitigate your financial pain. If the financial goals are still valid, hold tight and assess whether you should invest more, wait it out more, or cut your losses.
  5. Move on, in POWER. Take your mistakes into consideration and make the next financial decision with the full comfort that you know a little more than you did before.

Other Helpful Resources to Motivate You This Week

I spent a lot of time this week digesting powerful video content in taking action and beingmy badass self. One that stood out is a song called “God’s Intentional” by Travis Greene.  Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of faith, I think you’ll get a kick out of the words – it’s one of my new favorites!

Go Get ‘Em

How I Stay Calm When I'm Feeling Overwhelmed

Yes, I am not afraid to admit it – I am swamped and it’s the HOLIDAY. Between work, trying to stay fit, making time for the family, and carving out time for myself, things have been a little cra-cra (slang for crazy)!  I do not know where May went. Do you ever feel swamped by all that you have to do, or even your money situation?

When you feel this way, it’s sometimes hard to see an end in site.

But, I have good news – it won’t always be this way.  Here’s 3 Tips:

  1. Take a walk and breathe. I’ve been doing chakra breathing techniques and it helps.
  2. Re-evaluate if you’re bringing in enough money. Yes, not having enough take home can cause stress. If you have to get a side hustle to eliminate some of it while you look for something else, go for it.
  3. Focus on one thing at a time. I’m SOOO over a world that values multi-tasking. One thing at a time and do that thing well.

I know – this won’t fix everything BUT I hope it provides a little bit of a reset.

When you are swamped, it can be hard to execute on your investing goals and feel like you’re a badass. Don’t worry – you still are. All you need is a little reset.

So, I’m taking off the rest of today to get my reset on.

And I’ll leave you with this – Some smiles to wish you a very happy Memorial Day – that’s the hubby and me.

I won’t be swamped forever. And, nor will you.


I Have Your $1,000,000!

Happy Monday! The sun is shining in the Midwest, and I am always amazed by the energy that sunlight provides me. I hope that you are letting the sun shine on you today.

I know you want to know HOW I get you $1 million dollars, right? These days, Buffet is buying Apple stock in the hopes of getting his millions, but what about yours?

Well, I have done the millionaire math and all you have to do is the ACTION (remember, it’s the year of action):

If you put $1,000 away each month in the stock market for the next 30 years, you will have $1 million dollars. Now, I’m assuming that the stock market returns 6% per year, even though historically the market has returned 7%. 

Can you blame me for being a little conservative? If you missed my fun talk on market returns, check out my video.

The sad truth is that if you put that same $1,000 in a checking account every month for the same 30 years, you’d only have $360,000. Yup, I’m saying that when you invest your money and it earns what the stock market has returned historically, you can TRIPLE your money because of the power that investing provides you.

So, here’s 3 steps you can use to set yourself up for your own $1 million dollars:

  1. Well, it starts with being comfortable that you have 30 years left to go. I know, it sounds harsh, but if you’re over 50, I would suggest you think slightly differently about this approach. Drop me a line and let me know if you’re feeling a certain kind of way about being here 30 more years or other considerations (e.g. health issues, traveling, etc.) you’re thinking about.
  2.  Can you allocate $1,000 every month to investing for the long-run, albeit in your retirement account and/or your brokerage? Remember, you have to take a holistic view and think about not just your 401k accounts but any accounts outside of your 401k. If the answer in “no,” then perhaps $500 is more digestible right now. And, guess what? That’s OK because you can only do what you can do – it’s just going to take you longer to get that MILLION dollars.
  3. Take an inventory of your current investment accounts. I mean it – if you don’t know what you’re invested in, whether inside your 401k or outside your 401k, how will you know whether you’re getting the return you need to hit the mark. One of the things MANY people do is bury their head in the sand, but this is not you – you are equipped to face the music head on. Drop me a line below if you have a good strategy for staying on top of what your investment accounts

There you have it – you’re on your way to your $1 million. I told you I’d jump start the process. Leave a comment below and share HOW you’re going to employ the above strategies.

I’m Right There With You!