News & Articles

Good Actions to Take During the Economic Crisis
by Danielle L. Schultz, CFP, CDFA

March 26, 2020

The following article will be published in an upcoming issue of BetterInvesting magazine.

Every dog has their day. This appears to be that day if the number of people out walking them is any indicator. That’s a pretty upbeat example of good actions to take during this economic crisis: Take care of yourself, turn for comfort to those you love, pursue activities you otherwise never have time for and stop refreshing the screen showing your portfolio.

Above all, do not blame yourself! This is no individual’s fault. What’s happening to your portfolio has happened to everyone, no matter how prudent, frugal or research-oriented you’ve been. It’s affecting just about every industry, and because it’s so widespread — consumer, services, manufacturing, banking — every sector — even very well-run companies, worldwide, with excellent products, services and marketing are seeing their stocks plunge. 
As with all emergencies, we cannot predict what they will be. But we can predict that emergencies will happen, and they either get remedied or worked around. Each emergency is different, but the way to resolve them is the same: Sit tight until you can see a clear path to what is to be done.

We don’t know what that path will be, yet. Whenever I, or clients, can’t decide what to do it’s generally because we don’t have enough information. Today’s  situation is fraught with lack of information: How long will the COVID-19 pandemic last? Which companies will collapse, which will take time and which will ultimately come roaring back? Will new products be developed and will they have long-lasting or short-lived appeal? How effective will any government intervention be? Will current events increase partisanship or cooperation? Will the crisis shift national attitudes to unions; safety nets; immigration; health care; employee, women’s, minority and disability rights; and care for the elderly? We can’t answer any of these, yet.

The worst thing you can do is make decisions with insufficient information. So, right now, it would be good to recall the Great Recession, or 9/11, or any of the other economic crashes in the past decades. We’ve had such a good upward trend that many people had come to believe they were far more risk tolerant than they now find they are in real time. Is there anything you can do?

  1. Examine your cash stash. Do you have enough in an emergency fund: three months to two  years, depending on your personal situation? When I’ve advised clients, usually we’re thinking of personal rather than systemwide emergencies. So, so many people have told me “cash is trash” and doesn’t make any money. It doesn’t return any, either, but it is a stable anchor in a crisis. Make plans in the future for what’s enough, but not too much that you lose future returns.
  2. If you have cash sitting on the sidelines, and are pretty sure you won’t need it for a few years, you can pick up some bargains. If you had a watch list of stocks, at least some will have moved into the “buy” range. Has the market bottomed? There’s no way to know, but great companies, particularly steady dividend payers, will have the best chance of surviving and surging back.
  3. Now’s the time to improve your skills. You know that pile of BetterInvesting Magazines you’ve never gotten to? Now’s the time to read them, learn more about analysis and understand how current events have affected recommendations. Take the time you’ve never had to watch videos, read newsletters, and decide who is sensible and who is ridiculous.
  4. Learn more about catastrophe prevention. Do annuities, insurance or long-term care strategies seem more important now? Even if you can’t take immediate action, you can improve your understanding of their advantages and drawbacks. You’re assembling information so that when you are able to act, you’ll be well equipped to do so.
  5. Learn self-soothing strategies. Too often, when people are panicked, we seek to rid ourselves of the panic by taking any action rather than riding the wave until it subsides.  A typical scenario is that we see our investments plunging and sell out “before it’s too late.” Then the market comes back (it always does), but we missed getting back in because we were afraid it was a temporary improvement, or felt that we had evidence of our own incompetence, or just didn’t have time since it didn’t seem urgent. Learning more about investing is one strategy. But disengaging and pursuing a hobby, exercise, outdoor walks, playing with pets or our children, catching up on your book backlog or a 100 other things that the internet can suggest to you are all worthwhile. Two things I can say with certainty — don’t overeat and don’t panic sell. I even give you permission to subscribe to more than one streaming service. Find activities that will distract you and even better, will give you pride in having achieved something.

Even as a financial adviser, I can say that life is not all about money. I wish you health, joy, and comfort in all those other things.

Danielle L. Schultz, CFP, CDFA, is a fee only financial adviser with Haven Financial Solutions, Inc., based in Evanston, Illinois. She’s the author of “Idiot’s Guide: Beginning Investing.” Contact her at www.HavenFinancialSolutions.com


Calming Advice in Times Like This 
by Gary Ball, Puget Sound Chapter

March 20, 2020

Well, here we go again. The market has been down 20% and may go lower. What should we do? First, don’t panic. I have been here many times before. But it seems like it is always for different reasons. For years, I have always told our members and my friends not to have money in the stock market that may be needed soon. As we manage our portfolios, we always need to keep our asset allocation in mind. We need to keep cash and laddered CDs or bonds set aside for emergencies and living expenses. Times like this are why I have always said that.

I have always believed that you don’t lose money until you sell. After selling, you lock in your loss. Now is not the time to sell. In fact, if you are a long-term investor like I am this may be a good time to start buying. We don’t know if this is a market bottom, but stocks are certainly a better buy today than they were at the end of January.

As a long-term investor, I have always looked for times when the stock market goes on sale. Now is one of those times. Again, I don’t know if we are approaching a market bottom, but I am sure we will look back at this time in the future when the prices are much higher and wished we had bought. How many of us wished we had invested more during the financial crisis at the end of 2008 and early 2009?

Again, don’t worry. The market has always come back. It will this time.

Gary Ball, long-time BetterInvesting investor and Puget Sound Chapter director


BIwiki  <== click to go to the BIwiki website

The Online Chapter is the co-host for a special type of website -- a wiki.  A wiki is a collaborative web site that allows anyone to edit its pages. This particular wiki is for people who are interested in investing and in the investment style identified with BetterInvesting and the National Association of Investors Corporation (NAIC).  The BIwiki site is intended to be a publicly accessible repository for information and "lore" related to the style of investing embodied in the philosophy of BetterInvesting. The content in this site is produced by registered users who choose to create and contribute material, as explained below.

How to register.  To be a registered contributor to this BIwiki you must be a member of BetterInvesting.  Having said that it is emphasized that this wiki is not in any way sponsored nor endorsed by BetterInvesting.

What can you do here?   We hope that many of you will use this wiki to contribute your knowledge, ideas, best practices, points of view etc about BetterInvesting and the BetterInvesting style of investing. You can add comments to existing pages, or you can rewrite existing pages. You can even create entirely new sections of the wiki. There are countless ways to use this space, and we're counting on you to find them, invent new ones, and make it work!

We hope that what emerges from this wiki is a body of knowledge that the whole BetterInvestingcommunity can use. 

Viewing the BIwiki is open to everyone.  If, after having viewed the content you have an idea you'd like to contribute to further the investing knowledge of other BetterInvesting members you will need to become a registered user.  


BI Online Chapter Member Orientation Meeting

February 11, 2020

On Tuesday, February 11th we held an orientation webinar for all Online Chapter members  to introduce them to their new chapter, what are mission is, how we're organized, what our concept of operations is and how they can participate in this new endeavor.    Click to view the orientation  webinar handout for that part of the webinar.

The featured education event was Saul Seinberg who presented  "REITs are Neat and Here's Why".   Click to view the REITs presentation handout for that part of the webinar.

For those who missed the session (and those who would like to experience it again!)  here is the link to the webinar recording.


Online Chapter Launches

January 14, 2019

BetterInvesting is excited to announce the launch of the BetterInvesting Online Chapter, our newest chapter.  The Online Chapter will support members and BI investment clubs located in areas not served by a local on-the-ground chapter.  The chapter is committed to providing a wide variety of high quality programming and support to these members and clubs.

Here is a copy of a recent letter from Kamie Zaracki, CEO of BetterInvesting, celebrating the launch of the Online Chapter: 

For many years now and in collaboration with the volunteer community, BetterInvesting has made our programs available 24/7 by making our educational classes, stock analysis tools and resources available online.  Doing so has enabled us to meet the changing and increasingly online needs of members and the public.  The Online Chapter will continue in this tradition, and strive to reach individuals and clubs in areas where we were not able to provide service in the past.  

The leadership of the new Online Chapter is Jane Chatterjee and Joan Loken, Co-Presidents; Howard Johnson, VP Club Visits; Joe Farrell, VP Education and Model Clubs; Jie Eagleson, VP Visit-A-Club; Linda Hunt, VP Money Smart Week; Cliff Trent, Treasurer; Bob Houle, Secretary; and Charles Bard, BIVAB (Data) liaison to the Online Chapter.  They are ready to bring quality, unbiased third party investment educational programs to BI members and clubs served by the chapter.   

Congratulations to this team of volunteers who brought this idea of an online chapter to fruition.  Through their efforts, BetterInvesting is positioned to continue fulfilling George Nicholson’s vision for a nation of successful life-long investors.

Wishing you better investing,
Kamie 

Your Online Chapter

What is an Online Chapter?

This initial BetterInvesting Online Chapter (OLC) serves clubs and members who are currently unable to receive support from a local chapter due to geographic dispersion.  The OLC operates within the same structure as the regular on the ground chapters. It provides a consistent set of chapter programs which includes Model Club, Club Visits, Education webinars etc. to support clubs and individual members.  The primary difference is the delivery method: Online.

Why have an Online Chapter?

In the past 67 years BetterInvesting has been successfully empowering investors by constantly adapting to the changing environment. This era is no exception.  Computer and communication technologies have changed our way of learning and connecting with others. Operating an online chapter offers flexibility to clubs and individual members to engage and connect while receiving investing education and information.  This is part of the organization’s evolution, proactively meeting current and prospective members needs.


The benefits of belonging to an online chapter

  • Receive better support with more interactive service and prompt responses.  The service includes emails, online group discussion forums, an online meeting tool with screen sharing capability, and Facebook Messenger etc.

  • ​Convenient online Model Club(s) meetings or listening to the recordings at any time.

  • Provide mentorship to clubs and to individual members for addressing questions such as treasury, Stock Selection Guide, forming a new club, finding and visiting a club.

  • ​Attend online investing educational events.

How Do You Find Us?

Website. You can visit us on our chapter website to learn more about our Model clubs, Visit-a-Club, and education events etc.

Social Media. “Like” or “Follow” us on BetterInvesting Online Chapter Facebook.

How Do You Participate as a Volunteer in Online Chapter?

Please visit our chapter volunteering page about how you can become a volunteer and fill out the Volunteer Application.