Making Bitcoin Work For You, Or Not

Making Bitcoin Work For You, Or Not

Over the last few months, I’ve received many questions about bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that’s getting all the fanfare these days. If you haven’t been following the bitcoin news, not to worry – it’s not too late. New innovations in financial markets don’t come along too often, and I think it’s good to be aware of this one.

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Janet Yellen, Debt Reduction, and Year-end 2017

Janet Yellen, Debt Reduction, and Year-end 2017

Believe it or not, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said yesterday in her statement that our country’s economy would suffer in the short-term due to the hurricanes. As you can see, there is a major connection between our daily lives and how we progress (or not) as a collective economy. I know that you were probably also very excited to hear Yellen asserted that the economy remains strong and on track.

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The White House, Investing, and YOU

It’s August, and we are about halfway through summer – there’s still another half left, so enjoy it please. The White House is in a sad state. I can’t seem to get away from the craziness that has engulfed our highest level of office. The recent ousting of Scaramucci provides a useful lesson on trying to recover from bad investment choices. Here’s the recap:

Trump made an investment in Scaramucci, because Trump believed that he would get a bigger return on utilizing Scaramucci over Sean Spicer as the administration’s Communications Director.  In 10 days, Scaramucci proved that he was not a better bet, and ultimately displayed his inability to do the job well – his tirade with the New Yorker clearly had negative ramifications, as it should have.

So, you might be saying – where’s the investing lesson for me?

Well, you make investment choices every day.  If you make a bad one you must act swiftly, no matter how crazy it looks. For example, you might invest in a company where someone on the management team does something terrible (think United). If that person does something that brings down the value of the company, signified most by a decrease in the share price, there may be long-term effects on your ability to make money.

Sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and look for a better investment opportunity with a management team that will act in the best interest of shareholders like you and me. Even Trump knows this, as evidenced by ousting Scaramucci. Since I can’t remove Trump from office, I hope he makes better decisions, for the sake of everyone.

Onward and upward

And, thanks to all of you for supporting me via Twitter and in-person as I spoke on the panel “Startup Death Valley: Fears of Financing” as part of the Fear Paradox Summit. If you missed it here are some important takeaways as you deal with your money:

  • Be the CEO of your money – I’m going to keep saying this until you keep saying it.
  • Learn how to have spectacular failures – You’ll learn a lot about what not to do when bigger money opportunities come your way.
  • If you need to fund a business, make sure you aim to get revenue first – use some of your own savings to reach initial revenue targets.
  • Don’t max out your credit cards for the business – instead, keep your day job first before destroying your credit and putting yourself in a whole.
  • You have one life – make the most of it by maximizing every day.

Fearless and Freedom

I hope that you are still enjoying this beautiful summer eve! I continue to receive many emails and social media questions about the financial considerations of starting a business. You should know by now that I strongly believe (and the data continues to support) that business ownership is a powerful way to create wealth, and thus I’m super pumped that you keep raising these questions.

Well, this Friday, July 28th you can catch me at the Fear Paradox Summit in Chicago giving all the advice you need to get over the money fears of starting a business. I am on a panel talking about “Startup Death Valley: Fears of Financing.” And, because you are part of the Charisse Says community, you will receive a discount using my special code – “CHARISSE50.” Check out these details for more info.  The conference is targeted toward women, but I know the guys will be getting some pointers too. Either way, you can follow my updates and takeaways on Twitter @CharisseSays.

Now, I hope you are also having a fearless attitude in light of the news this week. Here are some standouts as they relate to your money:

  • ‘Robo’ Advisers Betterment, Wealthfront Get In on Socially Responsible InvestingOver the last month, two major roboadvisors – Betterment and Wealthfront - have announced plans to allow people like you and me to invest in companies that matter to us through ETFs and individual stocks. The term “social responsible investing” can be a catch-all for investing in all things with a social bent or an avoidance of investments in companies al that do not meet certain social criteria (e.g. treat their workers humanly or environmentally friendly).

Many of you have asked for ways to put your money into things that you believe in, and I urge you to think about the strategies purported by these roboadvisors. Constructing your portfolio in this manner takes a fearless attitude. Let me know if you have already made these types of decisions in your portfolio.

  • Michael Kors is Buying Jimmy Choo for $1.2 billion. Wow! I’ve never purchased any Jimmy Choo shoes, but I’ve lived vicariously through Carrie Bradshaw’s Choo fetish in “Sex in the City.” And, I’ve even tried a pair on in the store - oooh.

The stock, on the other hand, has had its ups and downs over the last 5 years, reaching as high as $97 in the beginning of 2014 to as low as $32 over the last 12 months. I think the reality is that luxury good companies like Kors are struggling to grow, particularly amidst a cut-throat e-commerce environment. As the New York Times reports, this deal comes just months after Coach’s announcement to buy Kate Spade for $2.4 billion. What’s your take on Kors as a long-term investment with this acquisition? Do you fear what’s happening to the retail industry and its effect on your portfolio?

Well, you have a chance to set yourself free by overcoming any fears you have about your money and investment situation. Whether you find an investment approach that matches what’s meaningful to you, or you continue to find opportunities (like the Michael Kors deal) that address changes in the industry, keep on taking action.

Take a Break Everyday

We are smack dab in the middle of summer, and the year. I can’t believe it! Were you able to sit down in the last couple of weeks and do a check-in on how you are tracking on your money and investment goals, as we discussed at the beginning of the month? Well, perhaps you will be encouraged by several people who have successfully achieved their investment goals. Specifically, these are my students who just finished the 8-week class - NEXTLEVEL: How to Make Money  in the Stock Market , which ended this past Saturday. Students developed their own investing strategies, are now on the road to buying and selling stocks with confidence, and learned from people who’ve had success investing. Here’s some initial feedback:

“I feel soooooo empowered and THAT much more informed!!!!”

Don’t worry, you’ll here more about how you can get some of this goodness for yourself soon.

I know focusing on you (and your money) can be difficult because so much is going on in your personal life and around us too – the health care bill saga, the stock market surge, and the challenges that some of our fellow global citizens are facing.

And, I know its probably information overload. Perhaps you may want to re-charge a bit, and I have the perfect question for you….

Do you need a break?

If the answer is “Yes,” what’s stopping you? Many people point to money or lack of time. Whatever your reason, I want to encourage you to do so. Many Charisse Says readers have shared with me inexpensive ways to take some time off, albeit doing a staycation or finding global destinations that are yearning for tourists. For instance, one member shared with me that he is on his way to Greece for $850 per person, including flight and hotel, since the country is desperately trying to attract visitors.  If you take the trip route, re-assessing your money and investment goals will provide the perfect exercise to let you know how feasible this is for you.

But, I also have good news for you who are in predicaments where a trip is truly out of reach right now….You can take a break every day! Whether it’s a walk in the fresh sunny air, some quiet time in the bathroom (don’t judge me), or talking to a friend who only wants you to share what’s going on in your life.

If you have taken a break, I hope you aren’t feeling like you are back on the rat wheel between work, family obligations, and all of those personal goals (e.g. abs of steel, investing in the stock market, etc.) you want to accomplish.

I fit in this camp - I took a break over July 4th weekend to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday (Remember this name – Pearl Conanan – as she is truly remarkable), and my young cousin’s 1st birthday (Remember the name – Morgan Springer – as she will have a major impact on this world). It was special, timely, and an unforgettable circle-of-life moment with my family and friends. When I got back, I was thrust back into the daily grind. I had to quickly employ the strategies I just mentioned, and all is better.  Try it!

Enjoy this precious week.

Three Things to Know About Finance This Week

I hope July is off to a fantastic start. The Fourth of July is tomorrow - yipee! I am looking forward to enjoying good picnic food and fireworks with friends and family. What are your plans? Tell me in the comments. It is a great time to take an hour or so and review your finances and investments for the year. I know - between the food and the fireworks in the evening, this might be hard. But, perhaps the morning or early afternoon might provide some good brain space. If not, set your sight on a money sit-down over the weekend.  We are halfway through our 2017 year of boldness and it’s a great chance to re-evaluate the bold steps we want to take, and make any necessary changes so that you get the wealth results you want.

 

Since it is a holiday week, I want to share some quick yet insightful reads. You can read these at the beach, the pool, or the comfort of your couch:

  1. Millennials are not buying homes. I am a border baby (I sit right on the cusp of Millennial and Gen X), so this realization hits home. This a big change from (our) their parents who saw homes as the ultimate American dream. So what are (we) they doing? Business Insider explains. I do believe these trends will have an effect on overall wealth in our generation.
  2. Did you see Blue Apron make its stock debut? Well, this Market Watch article features the good and the bad. I've not used Blue Apron, but this one should be interesting to follow in the months and years to come. Let me know if you took the plunge and bought.
  3. As a human interest piece, this article from Business Insider talks about life on Wall Street for young financial professionals.  These young chaps are often involved in the decisions that affect our money, regardless of age. In short, inclusion and impact matter. As a former Wall Street financier, I can appreciate the spotlight on the industry.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday! I look forward to hearing how you spend the day.

The Senate and Amazon...and Your Wallet.

I hope you are gearing up for the last week of June. Oh my! Like you, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about the Senate Health Bill. Man, we are living through a difficult time in our country. Between our President and our Congress, sometimes I just want to bury myself in a hole.  Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the bill is bad for all of our wallets. While we may not think we’re affected, the bill has an impact on the entire health care system. And when the system gets impacted we all suffer, as the indirect effects find a way to impact our finances. The New York Times reported on the Congressional Budget’s report on how the bill will affect us. Here’s several main points that make me angry about the bill:

  • It would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026 – unacceptable
  • Deductibles would be higher, in many cases – this is not good
  • Premiums for most older people would be higher – higher costs does not ease the strain for the system
  • Nearly half of all Americans could be affected by these cutbacks in “essential benefits,” and that as a result, coverage for maternity care, mental health care, rehabilitation services and certain very expensive drugs “could be at risk.”

While the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, I believe that everyone should have access to quality healthcare, and that it should be affordable. Even as I reflect on my own insurance coverage through my employer-sponsored package over the last few years, it’s apparent that I have been paying more for less services that are covered.  Hmmmm…

We all will continue to allocate a significant portion of our income to spending on health care, and thus we should continue to watch (and speak about) how we will tackle these issues as a country in the months and years to come.

What else has grabbed my attention?  Amazon Foods – That’s my own name for the Amazon’s announced purchase of Whole Foods. I’ve been processing this one for the last week and a half and I’m still fascinated by the $13.7 billion dollar price and the decision. If you saw Bloomberg’s article, "Expensive New E-Commerce Operation Compete With Amazon?," describing how Wal-Mart bought Jet.com to keep Amazon from dominating e-commerce, you know that it’s now a show-down between the big gorillas in shopping. Who will win on making the experience for customers like you and me affordable, easy, and different?

With Amazon’s announced purchase of Whole Foods, we have the master of online in Amazon (raise you’re glass if you’re an Amazon Prime junkie like me), and the master of seduction in Whole Foods, who lures you into a store to take your whole paycheck (me too).

Time will tell whether Amazon will benefit most from the Whole Foods’ data treasures, brick-and-mortar presence, supplier base, or distribution integration opportunities. I am confident that Amazon will find a way to disrupt and make anew how we spend our money and thwart off Wal-Mart.  You won’t want to miss what happens here in the years to come.

If you own Whole Foods stock, please share with me in the comments if you’re pleased with the acquisition and your thoughts on where Amazon is going next.

Kevin Durant, Finance, and You!

Amidst the craze of today I hope you are standing in good spirits this Wednesday. First, I want to extend thoughts and prayers to all of those affected by the events in DC today. Second, I am wishing you an early “Happy Father’s Day.” And, if you’re not a father, I hope you enjoy the fathers in your life. In that vein, I’m sending an early special shout-out to my terrific father, Frank Conanan! Even if you’re not a big basketball fan like me (which I owe to my Daddy), you couldn’t have missed all the hoops and hollerin’ about this past week’s NBA finals, starring the redemptive Golden State Warriors and the defending Cleveland Cavaliers champs.

In case this doesn’t ring a bell, the Warriors won! They added an ace in Kevin Durant to this year’s line-up and Durant is now on top of the hill – NBA champ and NBA Finals Most Valuable Player - because of his brilliant decision to leave the Oklahoma Thunder for the Warriors.  I can only smile and be happy for a man a man who spent 10 long years on a B team before upgrading himself to an A team in the Warriors to give himself a better chance at a prized championship.

We can all learn something, particularly when it comes to our money and wealth, from Kevin Durant’s decision. Here’s what we can draw:

  1. It takes action to make a change, regardless of the potential outcome. Durant spent years trying to make it work on a team, but he needed a change to have a different outcome. Many of us toil in financial stress and dissatisfaction for years before we get to that super low point before we make a change. You can flip the script on its head by making a change before things get so dire. Focus on one action you can take to make a change to your financial situation. I know it’s scary that you don’t know the outcome yet, but that’s part of the faith journey.
  2. Surround yourself with A players, not B. KD went with the A squad in the Warriors. When it comes to your money and wealth, you want to be around A players, from financial advisors, to accountability partners, and people in your life that will strive for excellence when it comes to your money matters.
  3. You Must Play Hard. Durant played with fire in his eyes, whether dunking over 2 people or shooting the lights out with his 3-pointers. When it comes to managing your money, you have to approach the process with your own fire in your eyes. If not you, then who? I’ve talked a lot about being the CEO of your money, and part of assuming this role is also working hard to achieve the goals and outcomes you desire.

Do you have another wealth lesson from the NBA finals? Share it with us.

Kevin Durant is very wealthy, and while he is definitely amongst the top 1% of American earners, we might not be so far from him when it comes to how we think about privilege.

Specifically, I read this weekend’s New York Times piece, “Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich,” which raises some serious questions about American class privilege. My favorite quote:

“The American myth of meritocracy allows them to attribute their position to their brilliance and diligence, rather than to luck or a rigged system.”

I love the British author’s constructive outside perspective. But, the author doesn’t offer up concrete solutions to solve the problem or deal with the complexities of why this is the case. Do you have any ideas for solutions to not simply “raise our consciousness about class,” as the author purports, but also do something about it?  Share your thoughts.