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 Much Money for Love?

Valentine’s weekend came and went but the love stays. I hope you told someone you love, romantic, platonic, or familial, that you love them. If not, stop reading this email, go do it, and come back. Go on! That person may not be here tomorrow. Each of us deserves to know that we are loved.

And, it’s because of our love for others that many of us go to work, although I hope you were off today, want to build wealth, and make sure we stay healthy. There’s no shame in this – as my grandmother told me yesterday, “I work because I like a nice lifestyle.” She’s the ultimate Badass.

But, how much money is enough to support a lifestyle today or ensure that your beloved future generations will be adequately provided for? If you’ve pondered this question,  you’re not alone. So…

Determine How Much You Will Invest This Year.

So, talk is cheap unless you take action. Write down how much you’re allocating for investing, which is separate from savings. This could be $1,000 or $10,000. Next week, I’ll share a great tip on hitting the goal. For now, write it down, ponder it, and envision it over the week.

Remember, your investing dollars reflects funds you hope will earn a return and you are building for the future. The markets are giving you a gift – low prices and a buying opportunity. If you’re in between jobs or have a loss of income, hit pause on this action because you’re in survival mode to find more income. Go get it!

The Bonus

If you’ve got a few hours to spare watch Where to Invade Next, directed and produced by Michael Moore. Check out the trailer here. I loved it! The movie will make you rethink your money priorities and expose how other countries have rebounded post the 2008 recession. 

You Can Come

And, finally, I want to personally invite all the Chicagoans to a Business Leadership Summit dinner on Wednesday, February 24th at 6pm, hosted by Willow Creek Church. I have been invited as the keynote speaker to share life and leadership lessons. You can sign-up here.

Where is the Best Place to Invest?

Over the last few months, I’ve been getting the same question – Charisse, should I invest in the stock market, a new business idea, a new investment property, or pay down my debt? This question has been coming at me from all ages, income levels, and professional careers. So…. I have one answer for you that you’re probably not going to like – it depends. But, these 3 factors will help you figure out what’s best for you now:


1. Time Frame. What you want to achieve in the next 12 months is different than what you want to achieve in the next 3-5 years. In the asset management world, we use the fancy word of “time horizon,” but it’s the same thing. We’re pretty much wired in American society to have things on demand, but be careful not to get caught up in wanting things now without truly understanding how long it’s going to reap the benefits of your investment. You must figure out what’s important to you now and how can you prepare, at least a little bit, for your future life, and that of your family’s.

I am wired as a long-term investor, but I often know that there are short-term (less than 12 month) goals – going on vacation and getting a little extra money to replace a broken dishwasher – that I want to hit right now. This plays out in how I allocate money in a few ways. First, I make sure that all of my debt payments (mortgage, student loan, and credit card) do not take up more than 20% of my gross income because I do not want to be hamstrung by debt. You may say, “I can’t swing that. “ If you can’t, it means that you need to get you a little more income or find a way to reduce your loan payments. Additionally, I invest predominantly in mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFS) over a 3-5 year period and individual stocks when I’m trying to make some short-term gains.

Other friends will tell me that they have no patience for the long-term (or even medium term) because they can be gone tomorrow. One’s culture upbringing also plays a key role in shaping our propensity to make choices for the present versus the future. If you fall in this category, good for you – just be mindful that your future self will be so pleased that you spent some time planning for her (or him).


2. Time to Devote. Your time is your most precious asset, and so spending the time that it takes to commit to whatever it is you’re investing in will be key. Let’s be real – it takes time to do research and consistently keep up with any investment, so do not underestimate this factor as you balance other life priorities like family, perhaps a 9-5 or independent contracting job, or just doing NOTHING – which I’ve learned is its own piece of heaven (thanks hubby!).

Of all of the investment options, starting a business will take the most time and effort. And, I’ll lump investing in real estate into this category because your business here is property management and building ownership. Whether it’s the late night hours of thinking of how you can improve that first website or minimum viable product, or securing that first customer, it takes time! The beauty of financial instruments or serving as an investor (and not the entrepreneur) in business ventures is that you do not have to put up much sweat equity.


3. Other Pulls on Your Cash. In my mind, cash is king. First off, I’m a big fan of ensuring that you have enough money to eat and live indoors. If you cannot sustain the basics, putting additional money toward investing will be extremely difficult. Unless you either have multiple streams of income or an inheritance, most of us also have a fixed amount of cash on hand. My mantra has always been that you should always put your cash toward the asset (stocks, real estate, start-up) or liability (e.g. mortgage, student loan, credit card debt) with the highest rate.

Over time, however, I have morphed into believing that sometimes you have to put a little money into something that doesn’t have the highest return just to keep you in the game if you can spare it. For instance, putting a few hundred dollars into a brokerage account, even once a quarter, can get you in the habit of participating in the stock market and getting comfortable with pushing the “buy” button. Yes, there are phantom stock trading platforms (e.g. Yahoo, Etrade, Fidelity) that offer you the opportunity to trade without real money, but there is nothing like   If you’ve been a saver, however, you will have more cash and choices to allocate a couple of different ways.


Now that you have a framework for evaluating how you should invest your next dollar, share your plan. Let me know which of the three factors is most important to helping you figure out how you will invest.