Complete Idiot's Guide to Savvy Investing


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Savvy Investing offers down-to-earth advice on everything: stocks, bonds, commodities, futures and options, CDs, mutual funds, IRAs, mortgages, all types of insurance, credit cards, taxes, and more.

Authors Koch, DeSalvo and Little clearly explain the ins and outs of Wall Street, how to zero in on a reliable broker, and dabbling in mutual funds and related portfolios.

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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Savvy Investing offers down-to-earth advice on everything: stocks, bonds, commodities, futures and options, CDs, mutual funds, IRAs, mortgages, all types of insurance, credit cards, taxes, and more.

Authors Koch, DeSalvo and Little clearly explain the ins and outs of Wall Street, how to zero in on a reliable broker, and dabbling in mutual funds and related portfolios.

Includes chapters on advanced investing.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780028644578
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 1/12/2003
  • Series: The Complete Idiot's Guide
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

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Table of Contents

Part 1 What Does "Financial Security" Mean to You? 1
1 Put Your Money to Work for You 3
Become an Educated Investor, Not Just a Consumer 4
So What Went Wrong When the Market Went Bust? 5
The Miracle of Compounding 6
An Easy Way to Figure Compound Interest 7
The "Blow-Your-Mind-by-Adding-Time" Chart 9
The 10 Percent Habit 10
Time, Risk, and Your Sanity 10
The Fed's Balancing Act: Dampening Inflation Without Dumping on Us 12
Your Personal Time Frame 15
2 How Do You Really Feel About Risk? 19
What Is Return? 20
What You Made, What You Paid 20
Fear of Heights: The Higher the Return, the Greater the Risk 21
The Tools of the Trade 22
The Three Broad Investment Classes 25
Variety Is the Spice of Life 26
Quiz Thyself to Know Thyself: Risk Tolerance Quiz 27
Got the Time? Take the Time Horizon Quiz 30
3 Are You a Grasshopper or an Ant? Selecting Your Investment Objectives 35
Just-in-Case Cash 36
How Can I Bring Home the Bacon, Fry It Up in a Pan, and Have Some Left Over? 41
How Gold Do You Want Your Golden Years to Be? 43
4 What Have You Got Right Now--and What Are You Going to Need? 47
So What Will Social Security Do for Me, Anyway? 48
Getting a Handle on Your Retirement Benefits by Pestering Human Resources 50
Help, I'm Self-Employed! 51
Creating Your Own Fabulous Pension Plan 52
A Super-Easy Way to Figure Out How Much You Need to Save 53
Use the 401(k) Plan, Stan 57
Get an IRA! 58
Trust Us, You Really Don't Want to Wait 58
But My Circumstances Will Change ... Won't They? 58
Stagger Your Debt 59
Your Personal Balance Sheet: A Snapshot of Your Finances 60
Get a Grip with a Personal Income Statement 62
A Happy Couple on the Right Track 64
Your Typical Young Guy Living Hand to Mouth 65
Part 2 Shore Up Your Foundation 69
5 A Closer Look at Employment Benefits 71
Retirement Plans 101 72
Defined Benefit Plans 73
Defined Contribution Plans 77
If Your Employer Matches, Invest the Max 79
Should You Put All Your Eggs in the Company Basket? Ask the Folks at Enron ... 81
What About Stock Options? Go for It 82
Managing Your 401(k) 83
No Company Plan? Create a Pension with an IRA 84
When Is a Roth IRA the Right Choice? 85
Converting a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA 86
The Two Best Investments for Your IRA: Stocks and STRIPs 88
What to Do When You're Small and Solo 90
Meet the New Kid on the Block 92
6 Cutting Expenses Is Investing! 95
Become a Hunter/Gatherer 96
Your Tax Bracket Is Higher Than You Think 96
Figuring Your Marginal Tax Rate 97
Risk-Free Saving Where You Least Expect It 98
Buying Bulk Is a Great Investment 99
Your Car: Leasing vs. Ownership 100
Choosing a Bank 103
Life Insurance 104
Knocking Down Real Estate Taxes 104
Credit Cards 104
Little Things That Add Up 105
7 Solving Debt and Credit Problems 107
What Does Your Credit Report Say About You? 108
CRA Horror Stories 108
How to Check Your Credit Reports 109
Credit Cards: You Only Need One 112
How to Really Get Your Act Together 113
A Checking Account? Who Needs It! 113
Debit Cards--a Better Choice? 114
How Much of Your Income Should Go Toward Reducing Debt? 114
Good Debt vs. Bad Debt 115
8 Trim Your Taxes 117
What Are All Those Different "Incomes" Anyway? 117
Spankin' New Tax Bracket and Lowered Tax Rates 120
Uncle Sammie and Your Marginal Income Tax Rate 121
Employer-Based Health- and Child-Care Funds 122
Medical Savings Accounts: Are They a Good Deal? 122
Bush Gets Busy 124
Gains and Losses on Securities Transactions 124
Did You Say Tax-Free Interest Income? 126
Home Equity Loans Are Deductible 129
Timing Can Make a Big Difference 130
Part 3 Investing 101 133
9 What Are They Up to on Wall Street, Anyway? 135
A Little Background Music, Please 136
What's with All the Animal References? 138
But What Do All Those Numbers Mean? 138
The Key to Your Stock Knowledge: Price-Earnings Ratios 140
Look into My P/E Crystal Ball 141
Should You Play with the Big Kids or Just Get a Piggyback Ride? 142
Asset Allocation/Rebalancing 147
How Much Stock Should Be in Your Portfolio? 148
Dollar Cost Averaging, or How to Own Stocks and Stay Happy 149
10 So You Want to Play with Stocks 153
Tips for Trading Like a Pro 154
If You Buy It, You'd Better Love It 155
The Biggest "Do" of All 155
Researching Individual Stocks 157
All the News That's Fit to Print: Company Annual Reports 159
How to Use a Broker to Place a Trade 162
When Should You Buy Stock? 164
Diversifying Your Stock Portfolio: How Many Holdings Are Enough? 166
11 Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Fixed-Income Securities 169
What Are Fixed-Income Securities For? 170
When Do You Get That Groovy Interest Income? 171
Corporate Debt--An Unwise Choice for Small Investors 176
Okay, Corporate Debt Is Out--What Should I Buy? 178
The New I Bonds 180
CDs: A Viable Alternative to Government Debt 182
12 Navigating the Mutual Fund Universe 183
What Exactly Are Mutual Funds? 184
Open-End and Closed-End Funds 184
Avoid Load Funds 186
Index and Tax-Advantaged Funds 187
Exchange-Traded Funds 188
What's Out There in the Fund Universe? 188
Why Funds Are a Great Investment Option 189
How to Pick a Winning Fund 190
Check Out These Funds 191
Money Market Funds 194
Variable Annuity: a Mutual Fund Wrapped Around an Insurance Contract 195
Lifestyle and Tax-Efficient Funds 196
Pick a Date to Rebalance Your Mutual Fund Holdings Annually 197
Part 4 Rolling with Life's Changes 199
13 Work Smart, Not Just Hard: Getting the Max from Your Job 201
What to Ask a New Employer 202
Transferring Retirement Accounts 203
So You're Your Own Boss 204
Retirement ... at Last! 207
How the Retirement Age You Choose Affects Social Security 207
Pay Tax on Social Security Benefits? Sad, but True 208
Can You Work and Still Collect Social Security? 209
Advantages to Delaying Retirement 209
When and How to Apply for Your S.S. Benefits 210
How Does Medicare Work? 210
What About Lump-Sum Retirement Benefits? 212
14 The Ramifications of Romance 213
When You Need a Prenup 213
The Marriage Tax 215
Joint Bank Accounts 215
Should You Keep Separate Investment Portfolios? 216
Untangling Your Assets During Divorce 217
QDROs--How to Split Retirement Assets When You Split 218
Negotiate with Your Head, Not Your Spleen 218
Other Divorce Options 219
15 Home Ownership: What You Need to Know 221
The Down Payment 222
Timing Is Everything 222
Re-Fi Mania 223
Evaluate Your Mortgage-Worthiness Before a Banker Does 224
Compare Renting to Owning 224
Over Time, Owning Should Save You Money 225
Renting Pluses 225
How Much of Your Income Should You Spend on Housing? 226
Fixed Rate vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgage 226
I.O. for U.? 226
The Costs of Closing 227
Second Mortgages--Pros and Pitfalls 229
Pluses to Paying Off Your Mortgage 229
Should You Shorten Your Mortgage? 229
The Relocation Package 230
Renting Out Your Home When You Move 231
Real Estate Agents 232
Closing the Deal 232
16 Educating the Little Rascals 235
Put Your Financial Security First 236
Setting Up Educational Funds 236
Qualified Tuition Programs (Section 529s) 240
Pros and Cons of 529 Plans 243
Tax Breaks for Education Expenses 244
Other Options 245
Sorting Out All the Options 246
Sorting Out the AGI Level Morass 247
In Whose Name? 248
17 Covering Your Assets 249
Don't Insure What You Can Afford to Replace 249
Life Insurance Simplified 250
Determining Your Insurance Needs 250
Annuities 254
Your Kids Don't Need Life Insurance 255
Insuring Your Home and Other Assets 255
18 Keeping Uncle Sam's Greedy Mitts off Your Estate 257
Why You Don't Want to Die Without a Will 258
Probate: The Process of Administering Your Will 259
Big Changes in Estate Taxes! 260
Unified Is Bifurcated 262
The Estate Tax Repeal ... Not So Appealing? 263
Tax-Saving Alternatives 265
Other Ways to Reduce Estate Taxes 266
What If You Inherit Money? 268
Part 5 Investing Online 271
19 Getting Started with Online Investing 273
Once Upon a Time There Was a Big Fat Computer 274
Hey, How Do I Turn This Thing On? 276
You Need a Surfboard ... We Mean, a Browser 279
Banking and Shopping Online 280
Now Can I Trade? Selecting an Internet Broker 283
20 What's New in Online Trading and Tracking 291
Speed and System Backups 291
How to Use an Online Broker 292
How an Online Broker Works 293
Researching Investments Online 295
Tracking Your Portfolio 298
Three Isn't Necessarily a Crowd 299
Part 6 Advanced Investment Plays 307
21 Hedging Your Options 309
Puts and Calls 310
How Did This Get Started? 311
Risk-Loving Speculator Seeks Cautious Hedgehog 312
In the Money 313
Reading an Option Table 313
Selling Short vs. Trading Options 315
Risky Business 316
Option Strategies That Protect Your Stock Positions 316
Stock Index Options 317
The Braveheart of Wall Street 319
22 Fancy Futures 321
What Is a Commodity? 322
It All Began with Farmers 322
How a Future Differs from an Option 323
How Margins Work 324
Using Futures to Offset Uncertainty 325
Financial Futures 326
Options on Future--Oy! 327
Spread Strategies for Speculators 327
Gold Nuggets 328
23 Realizing Real Estate Dreams 331
Why Own Real Estate? 331
The REIT Stuff 332
Types of Real Estate Ownership 334
So, You Want to Own Real Estate 335
Purchase and Rental of Homes and Apartment Buildings 336
How Rental Income Hits Your Tax Return 337
Location, Location, Location 339
Financing Real Estate Investments 340
24 Alternative Investments 341
How Regular Folk Discovered Alternative Investments 342
Hedge Funds 342
Venture Capital and LBO Funds 343
The Private Equity Fund of Funds 343
Pros and Cons of LP Investments 346
Unit Investment Trusts 346
Along Came a SPDR 347
A Useful Investing Info 349
B Glossary 355
C How to Avoid Turning the Stock Market into Your Own Personal Emotional Roller Coaster 363
Index 367
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