Investment Tip 5: Understanding Mutual Funds

In earlier Investment Tips, I provided an overview of stocks and bonds. If you have a basic understanding of stocks and bonds, then learning about mutual funds should be fairly easy. A mutual fund is a pool of stocks or bonds. An equity mutual fund, which is also called an equity fund or mutual fund (which is a bit misleading) is a pool of stocks. A bond mutual fund, or bond fund, is a pool of bonds.

Mutual funds allow investors the opportunity to invest a variety of stocks that normally would only be  available to the wealthy. Additionally, owning a mutual fund allows diversification of a bunch of stocks (or bonds) without having to purchase (and sell) each of those assets individually.

For example, the T. Rowe Price Growth Stock Fund (PRGFX) is growth equity mutual fund focused on growing companies that pay dividends. For PRGFX, the following stocks make up 40% of the equity mutual fund:

  • Alphabet (owned by Google)
  • Amazon.com (AMZN)
  • Apple (AAPL)
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)
  • Danaher (DHR)
  • Facebook (FB)
  • MasterCard (MA)
  • Microsoft (MSFT)
  • Priceline (PCLN)
  • Visa (V)

Rather than buying each of these stocks individually, you can invest in a mutual fund for a themed investment approach that is more affordable to all investors. In the case of PRGFX, the theme is growth stocks, most of which are technology companies.

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Gun Blazing Week

Apparently, I missed the memo about Gun Blazing Week. I have conflicted feelings about the retaliation event in Dallas. On the one hand, it is wrong to kill innocent people. Two wrongs also don’t make it right — I see the retaliation as equally as bad as the police brutality/homicides that we’ve all witnessed online over the last 2 years. On the other hand, never have we seen change occur without violence; believing that people will have a shift in their values feels too idealistic to me. Am I the only person grappling with gun violence in this way?

Soul City, North Carolina: A City for Black America

Led by civil rights activist, Floyd McKissick, and partially funded, with $14 million, by President Richard Nixon, Soul City was a city developed and built for Black people in the late 1960s. At 3,600 acres, Soul City was supposed to be the  ideal world for Black America, eliminating the usual social, political, economic disadvantages in the rest of the America. The motto for Soul City was “The First City in the World that’s Built Around Your Family.” The target audience: Black families in the north, most of whom had migrated to there from the South during the Great Migration, living in the ghettoes.

While the fall of Soul City is unclear, it is likely that the relationship between capitalism and federal government funding. The job market never developed: there were no companies with the ability to bring a large number of jobs in Soul City. About 10 years later, Soul City expected to have 40,000 people and had less than 200 people.

Update 05/27/16

1. Black Panther, the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, #1 is this year’s best seller at +250,000 copies sold. Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the 2015 MacArthur Genius award winner.

2. The hip-hop Broadway musical about the Andrew Hamilton, “Hamilton” is in the top 5 highest-grossing shows at $74MM so far.

3. Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer (known for controversy around employee management — a history of suicides occurred potentially due to working conditions), replaces 60,000 humans with robots. Foxconn most notable contract partner products include the Apple iPhone/iPod/iPad, Blackberry, Amazon Kindle, Playstation 3 & 4, Xbox One, and WiiU.

Review of Acorns App

In Investment Tip #4, I laid out the investment management industry. Acorns was one of the new investment management companies that I mentioned because of its convenience, low fees, and no minimums — it provides everyone with the opportunity to invest, with as little as $5.

I’ve been using the Acorns app for about 3 weeks now.

Positives

  1. App is easy to use
  2. Projected value calculation based on age and monthly contribution
  3. Get $5 for every friend that you invite

Negatives

  1. Only 5 portfolios to choose from
  2. Auto-debit takes 1 business day
  3. My credit union can’t be linked

The Green Book: The Originally Airbnb for Black Folks

One of my favorites things to do is travel. I grew up traveling domestically, mostly in the South and Midwest, with my family. Today, if I had unlimited funds, then I’d spend all of my time traveling internationally.

The first travel guide for Black Americans was created by Victor Green in 1936. The Negro Motorist Green Book, or The Green Book, provided information and maps about safe lodging, restaurants, gas stations, and other factors that were a part of travel, for American ethnic minorities, during that time. Initially, The Green Book was in the New York area, as Green was from Harlem, but by the 1950s had expanded throughout the U.S., Bermuda, Mexico, and Canada.

In his initial print, Green wrote about his hope that this book would not always be needed, implying the desire for equal rights. Today, Green would be disappointed. Even within the travel industry, companies like Airbnb struggle with racism against travelers of color. Based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, hosts with more than 5 rooms cannot discriminate against guests based on their race. Airbnb has tried to address this issue with a “Debias Yourself” browser plugin that removes a potential guest’s name and other “racially identifying” information. There efforts have not been successful — just a few weeks ago, #AirbnbWhileBlack was trending on social media.

Update 05/13/16

  1. The stock market (both DOW and S&P500) both logged their third week of losses this week ($44 billion has been pulled out of the market by investors over the past 4-6 weeks). Driven by consumer, financial, industrial, and energy sectors. If you’re optimistic about these sectors, then I do suggest investing now. Ironically, consumer sentiment has increased over the last month.
  2. Lending Club, an American peer-to-peer lending company, stock price fell by 35% this week after the Founder/CEO, Renaud Laplanche, erratically quit.