Posts Tagged With: investments

The Perils of Penny Stocks

“The best way to avoid penny stock scams is to do independent research.” 

This article underscores the importance of researching penny stocks before investing.  Too often, the lure of “big” profits encourages people to invest without researching penny stocks.  Simply put, they don’t do their homework.

According to this article, a good place to obtain research information about penny stocks is the Security and Exchange Commission website (  By examining a company’s 10-K annual report, 10-Q quarterly report, and Form 8-K filings, in which companies report material events.

The article also warns investors about email promotions about penny stocks that are more hype than reality.  For example, Paul Allen, a 65-year old retiree from Boston,  received a flood of emails about a company called Vapor Hub International suggesting that shares of the e-cigarette company were about to take off.  He invested and quickly lost 80 percent of his investment.  And there are many more examples where investors–especially investors with limited funds and little experience buying and selling stock–often lose all or a large portion of their investment.

For more information go to

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Remind students that there is no substitute for research when picking any stock–especially penny stocks issued by small companies without a proven track record.
  • Tell students to remember the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.”

Discussion Questions

  1. Most investors know the risks involved when they invest in penny stocks. Still, they invest their money.  Why do you think they choose penny stocks?
  2. Assume that you are considering an investment in Vapor Hub International. What information could be used to evaluate this penny stock?  Where would you get this information?
Categories: Chapter_12, Frauds and Scams, Investments, Stocks | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Here’s How to Become a 401k Millionaire

“If your job offers you a 401k or similar retirement plan, you’ve got one of the very best investment tools at your disposal.”

To become a 401k millionaire, all you need is a paycheck, reasonable options in your retirement plan, and time.  This article also explains that once you start putting money into the plan, the tax-deductible investments grow and are tax-deferred until you begin to withdraw money from your 401k account.  As an added bonus, your employer may match all or part of the money you contribute to your 401k account.

A very useful table that shows how many years it will take for you to become a millionaire based on how much you (and your employer) invest each month with different rates of return is also included in this article.  And there are also suggestions for increasing the amount that you save or invest in a 401k account or other savings or investment accounts.

For more information go to

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Stress the importance of beginning an investment program sooner rather than later.
  • Discuss ways to save the money needed to start an investment program.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to begin saving and investing sooner rather than later?
  2. Assume you (and your employer) invest $250 a month in your 401k account. How long will it take for you to become a millionaire if your investments earn annual returns of 10 percent?  (Note:  Using the table in the article, the answer is 35.5 years.)
Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter_11, Investments, Opportunity Costs, Time Value of Money | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Apple and Google Show that Stock Splits Are Cool Again

Now that Apple and Google split their stock, expect the thin pool of high-priced stocks to follow suit.

Can a stock’s price be “too high?” Good question. When Google split its stock in 2014, the share price had broken through the $1,000 ceiling. After a 2-for-1 stock split, Google’s price per share dropped and left only four stocks trading for more than $1,000 a share.

Most companies split their stock to lower the share price which will “hopefully” make their stock more attractive to investors. In reality, many investors prefer to buy 100 shares of a $20 stock rather than buy 20 shares of a $100 stock. These same investors believe a stock has more potential for a dollar increase if the share price is lower rather than higher.

This article also points out a basic reason why investors don’t profit from the actual stock split. If an investor, for example, owned 100 shares of Apple stock priced at $630 on the day before the recent 7-for-1 split, the investor would own 700 shares of stock after the split, but the price drops to $90 per share. A $63,000 investment before the split is still worth $63,000 after the split.

For more information go to

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to:

  • Discuss why companies split their stock.
  • Explain the effect of a stock split on a company’s market capitalization. (Market capitalization = a company’s share price x the number of shares outstanding.)

Discussion Questions

1. Why do corporations split their stock?

2. Once a company’s stock does split, the price may increase or decrease in value. After the 7-for-1 stock split, what happened to the share price of Apple stock?

3. Besides “possible” increase in value caused by a stock split, what other factors account for an increase or decrease in a company’s stock price?

Categories: Chapter_12, Investments, Stocks | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Mutual Fund Education Alliance

Since 1971, the Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) has been dedicated to informing and educating the investing public about how they can use mutual funds to achieve important lifetime goals.

The website for the MFEA provides both beginning and experienced investors with a wealth of information that can be used to become a more informed mutual fund investor.  For example, the MFEA website provides information about

  • The power of investing
  • Understanding risk
  • Why mutual funds?
  • The importance of performance,
  • Fund costs, fees, and expenses
  • Taxation

For more information go to

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and information on this website to

  • Supplement the material you present in your classroom lecture or online course.
  • Create an assignment designed to strengthen a student’s basic understanding of mutual fund investments.
  • Create an assignment where students use the MFEA fund screener to evaluate one or more mutual funds.

Discussion Questions

  1. Often beginning mutual fund investors, just invest their money without really learning about mutual fund investments or specific funds?  Why is this a flawed approach?
  2. There are many investment websites that will help you learn about mutual funds and also evaluate different funds.  What factors make one website better than another website?
Categories: Chapter_13, Investments, Mutual Funds | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Apple Returns to Bond Market

Investors flock to Apple’s $12 billion debt offering.

The demand for Apple’s new bond issues with maturities ranging from three to thirty years and rated double-A-plus, the second highest rating, reflects a corporate-debt market that is putting in a surprisingly strong performance this year.  The rate for Apple’s 3-year bonds was 1.068 percent; the rate for 30-year bonds was 4.483 percent–about 1 percent more than U.S. Treasury securities.

Although Apple has a healthy cash pile, about $150 billion, it chose to issue bonds to pay for expanding its stock buyback program and increasing its dividend to stockholders. According to many experts, the fact that Apple has such a large cash surplus and is currently the most valuable U.S. firm based on stock-market value helped assure bond buyers that there is little risk in Apple bonds.

For more information go to

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Remind students that once a bond is issued, the price can increase or decrease because of the inverse relationship between a bond’s price and overall interest rates in the economy.  (Higher interest rates in the economy = lower prices for existing bonds; and, lower interest rates in the economy = higher prices for existing bonds.)
  • Explore different reasons why Apple chose to issue bonds instead of using some of its cash surplus.  (Reasons include taxation of cash held in off-shore accounts and financial leverage.)

Discussion Questions

  1. Apple chose to sell bonds to fund its share buyback program and increase dividends to stockholders.  What are the advantages of selling bonds instead of using part of its cash surplus?
  2. Why would a short-term bond pay lower interest than a long-term bond?
  3. Given your current age and financial situation, would you invest in Apple corporate bonds?  Why?
Categories: Bonds, Chapter_11, Investments | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Slacker’s Guide to Saving for Retirement

Whether retirement is coming soon or feels far away, it’s something you need to think about.

This article encourages students to make retirement planning a part of their budget and one of their financial goals.   It also points out the benefits of starting early—even if students can contribute only a small amount because of other obligations that include paying off student loans and other debt obligations, paying rent, buying groceries, and establishing an emergency fund.

A very good suggestion included in this article is to start by saving just $25 from each paycheck, and then increase the amount until someone feels they have reached a limit they are comfortable with.

Other suggestions include participating in a 401(k) account at work and using bonuses and salary increases to boost the amount contributed to your retirement account.

For more information, go to

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Encourage students to develop a long-term financial plan that includes retirement goals.
  • Discuss time value of money examples that show how small dollar amounts invested on a regular basis can help achieve long-term financial goals.
  • Launch a discussion about the different types of retirement accounts.

Discussion Questions

1.  Many people never begin saving or investing because there is never anything left over at the end of the month.  How can you find the money needed to begin saving and investing?

2.  Why should you begin to save for retirement now instead of waiting until later in life?

Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter_11, Chapter_14, Financial Planning, Investments, Retirement Planning, Savings, Taxes | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stock Investing at Lower Risk: A Guide for Beginners

Here’s a simple breakdown of key points for investing in stocks

For the beginner, stock investing can seem like an uncharted mine field because of terms, regulations, and fear. This article provides five important pieces of information that can help students understand stocks and become better investors. Here goes:

  1. Owning stock is owning a company. As an owner, you have rights and responsibilities.
  2. Stocks grow two ways because they can increase in value and they pay dividends.
  3. Stocks rise and fall in value. Keep in mind what goes up can come down.
  4. You will pay taxes unless your stocks are held inside some type of tax deferred retirement account.
  5. Stocks can be volatile. Volatility is different than the typical rise and fall in price described above because volatility occurs when an investment has major price swings in a short period of time.

For more information go to

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Provide basic information to students who are studying stock for the first time.
  • Help students understand the process of stock investing.
  • Compare stocks with savings accounts, certificates of deposit, bonds, mutual funds, and other investment alternatives.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can you profit from a stock investment?
  2. What are the risks associated with stock investments?
  3. How can you avoid paying taxes on stock and other investment alternatives?
Categories: Chapter_12, Chapter_14, Investments, Retirement Planning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Average Tax Refund More than $3,000 So Far

A month into the 2014 tax filing season, the IRS said the average tax refund is up 3 percent to $3,034.

This article also reports that more taxpayers are completing their own returns as opposed to using the services provided by tax professionals and filing their returns earlier this year when compared to 2013.   Already, the IRS has received nearly 40 percent of expected total returns during the first month of the filing season.

Finally, recent surveys indicate most Americans plan to use their tax refund to pay down debt, for shopping, or for entertainment.

For additional information, go to

Discussion Questions

1.  Assume you just received a $3,000 tax refund.  How would you use the money?

2.  If you received a $3,000 refund this year, what effect would it have on your tax planning for next year?

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to discuss

  • If students should use a tax refund to pay down debt, start an investment program, or spend the refund.
  • Time Value of Money examples to show how a refund that is saved or invested can increase in value.
Categories: Chapter 3, Chapter 6, Chapter_11, Investments, Purchasing Strategies, Taxes | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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