Mar 17, 2008

Concerning My Expenses... and the Stock Market

I've charged about $500 in expenses for the show I'm currently working on, and while I'll get all that money back, I'm now a little worried how I'm going to pay for all of it. I've moved so much of my money into stocks and such (which, of course, are performing awfully) that I have little in my checking account. I get paid sometime at the end of the month and I'm actually owed a lot of money right now for invoices I haven't filed yet, so I'm not really concerned about the end result of my expenses balancing out, but for time being I have a credit card statement due that needs to be paid off, like, next week.

What to do, what to do.

In other financial news, I'm starting to really feel the hit of the stock market. Mostly I just picked a few bad stocks on the first day I signed up for Sharebuilder (bought 4 shares of one for $26 and now it's down to a measly $11). I could sell that stock and buy something else with the money but it seems like a waste to sell $40 worth of stock with a $9 fee. If anything, it's worth $30 to wait it out and see if one day that stock will go up again. Or if the company will go out of business and it will be worth nothing.

While that specific stock has cost me the most in my Sharebuilder account so far, I'm still down $73 dollars. Not so bad, I guess, compared to my Vanguard accounts which are now down hundreds. Thousands even. I can barely bare to look at them.

I've been keeping detailed track of my investments and every single account for the past month. I record it all in a google docs spreadsheet every three days. So this way I can see what my stocks are actually doing. It's a little hard to track them because I invest in them every other week, so it's hard to tell if they went up or if I just put more money into them.

I'm trying to continue investing with the "stocks are on sale now" mentality but it's getting tough. Losing money is not my forte.

I'll hang in there, though. Or at least I'll try, in hopes that one day when the economy booms again, so will my stocks and index funds.

In the meantime, my GLD ETF is performing very well. I'm sad I didn't buy more of it the first day I decided to start purchasing stocks. Still, I fear that I won't get out of GLD at the right time and I'll end up losing all my gains.

A few weeks ago I wrote how my GLD was up $29 and someone said that I should just sell it now, the $24 gain was good enough. But now it's up $47 so I'm glad I didn't sell. The way the economy is looking, it's probably good to hold onto it for a while. It's the only ETF/stock in my Sharebuilder account that's actually making money. It helps balance the blows of everything else. Luckily it's also the largest percentage of my Sharebuilder portfolio. So that's why I'm only down $73. But given the trends in the stock market, I have a feeling I'll be down much more.

The good news is that my Prosper accounts are doing well. I'm getting an average 8% return on them. I only have $200 in Prosper (and one $50 bid out) but it's nice that my borrowers are paying me back on time thus far. It also feels like a nice cushion to the sagging stock market. But I know that one defaulted borrower would put me back $50, and more than one would make the whole P2P lending "benefits" worthless. Less than worthless. You know?

So where does that leave me? Like everyone else who is invested in anything, my finances are suffering right now. I feel like this is a great opportunity to throw money at the stock market (or at least at low-cost index funds and maybe some quality stocks now "on sale") but gosh, it's really hard to put money in knowing that I'm going to lose a lot in the meantime.

I mean my Vanguard total stock fund should have $5200 in it, but instead it has about $4500 or something. I can't even check anymore. It's too painful.



4 comments:

JanePlain said...

i was (still am) tempted to try sharebuilder but put it off I until I can learn a bit more about stocks and the stock market. I'm so risk averse when it comes to these things! :(

bsimms@miamiherald.com said...

The stock market is a tricky witch; I personally stay far away from it, as I feel it's a way for the rich to make money off of the poor. But the key, I believe, is to KEEP YOUR MONEY IN! It may be tempting to take that money out after a loss, but if you invest yourself in a nice, safe basket of funds, eventually, hopefully, it'll go up; that is, if the country doesn't plunge helplessly into recession.

SavingDiva said...

I would love to start investing in individual stocks, but first I need to have a fully funded EF.

Well-Heeled said...

I think it would make you feel a lot more comfortable if you started reading some good, solid guides on investing - I especially recommend The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein.

Remember WHY you expect to gain - over the long term - by investing in stocks: because you are expected to be compensated for the ADDITIONAL risk you are taking in equity over risk-free instruments such as government bonds.

The risk aspects means that the market will go down a lot of the time, but over the long run, SHOULD give you a positive return.

Of course, Keynes said, "in the long run we're all dead."

Also, buying high and selling low is the surest way to lose money - figure out WHY you purchased the stocks you did, and if those reasons haven't changed, then stay put. Don't sell.

If the only reason you bought the stocks is because, oh, they seem to have a high price and my friend recommended them, then you'd need to do more research the next time around.

Btw, it's great to see another CA pf blogger. :)

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