We’re celebrating Financial Literacy Month in numeric style. Follow our crash course on maximizing your portfolio and finances with The 10 Essential Money Lessons.
Welcome to the third part of our series on financial literacy. Thus far, you've had a chance to discover some essential numbers and get introduced to several must-read financial books. Next, we'll talk about an even friendlier way to sharpen your financial skills.
For me, one of the best ways to really learn something is to talk it over with a bunch of like-minded people. If your spouse, siblings, or friends aren't that interested in all things money (other than how to earn or spend it), where can you go?
As part of The Motley Fool's mission "to build the world's greatest investing community," we maintain a healthy set of discussion boards, covering every topic from investing to the finer points of barbecue. Here are 10 financial-related discussions you can sample, along with a handful of just plain fun ones, as an introduction to what's available. If you want to participate or have an opinion to voice, join our community -- it’s fun and free, and what's better than that?
Boards about investing
Dividend Growth Investing: Clues on how to get your share of company's earnings, while growing your portfolio and income. Recent board discussions centered on dividend players such as Diageo
(NYSE:DEO)and Penn West Energy Trust (NYSE:PWE). In a rough economy, company dividends may fluctuate. Community members have shared their thoughts about whether dividend cuts awaited companies like General Electric (NYSE:GE).
- Liquid Lounge: The place for seeing how many professional money managers think. Discussions about various companies, recruiting or talking with clients, and general market conditions make this a fascinating place for the serious investor.
- Macro Economic Trends and Risks: If you like to look at investing with a distinctly macro lens, or if you’re trying to make sense of the ongoing economic saga, this is the board for you. Recent discussions have pondered the banking stress test and the possibility of converting the government's bank loans to equity positions.
The BMW Method: Using reversion to the mean, this group of investors looks at companies that are trading below their long-term average growth rate. One recent discussion looked at a move by Intel
(NASDAQ:INTC)to reprice worthless stock options. Partly technical, partly fundamental, always fascinating.
- Mechanical Investing: If stock screens appeal to you as part of a specific strategy, you've found the right board. Discussions here include coming up with new screens for finding companies, as well as following long-established strategies.
- A Place for TA Talk: While The Motley Fool itself focuses on company fundamentals, some investors like to explore other tools available to find good investments. This board discusses technical analysis and its use in deciding when to buy or sell a stock.
Boards about financial planning
- Living Below Your Means: Learning how to spend less than you bring in is a key skill to practice before you start to save and invest. Discussions range from reusing plastic sandwich bags (for the true diehards) to simply bringing your lunch to work one or two days a week, instead of spending $5 at McDonald's -- or $15 elsewhere.
- Credit Cards and Consumer Debt: For those who haven't been living below their means, this is the place to go. Tips and tough love about how to pay down the thousands of dollars of debt you might have racked up are available upon request. Whether you read or contribute, it's a very caring group of people, dedicated to wiping out the $8,000 debt under which the average American household labors. The best part? The happy dances posted by people when they meet a milestone, or even more excitingly, pay off the last of their $23,378 debt.
Buying or Selling a Home: Even in this market, people still need to move in and out of homes, and banks like Wells Fargo
(NYSE:WFC)are still providing mortgages. On this board, longtime real estate agents and other professionals freely donate their time and expertise. You'll learn pointers on the art of negotiation, what to look for during an inspection, and how to prep your home for sale. Of course, once you've bought your home, check out the Building/Maintaining a Home board to keep it in top-notch shape -- or start building your dream home.
- Tax Strategies: Nearly every financial decision we make has tax consequences, from investing in dividend-paying stocks to selling those shares of ExxonMobil you inherited from Grandma. This board is the place to learn all about these consequences. Its FAQ page is a must-read for everyone who wants to stop being intimidated by the IRS every April. While the tips you learn may not help this year, you can certainly start preparing for your next go-round.
All work and no play…
Believe it or not, life is about more than just investing. Here's a sampling of our non-financial boards, from among the hundreds available.
- Humor and Urban Legends: Jokes, videos, puzzles, caption contests, and little old ladies who put one over on bank executives are among the things you'll find at this entertaining board.
- BBQ, Art of, Fun(ky), The: Afficionadoes of the style of cooking known as BBQ hang out here, trading recipes and having a good ol' time. My mouth waters just writing about it.
- Get Organized!: Clutter can raise your stress levels before you even realize it. Taking control can help you get a firmer grip of other parts of your life, financial and otherwise.
- Photography: My skills are more worthy of an Eastman Kodak Instamatic than a $5,000 digital camera, but I love looking at what others can do with a sweet set of lenses, whatever the price.
- Help With This STUPID Computer: From setting up a home network to figuring out how Microsoft's Office 2007 works when you're used to Office 2003, you'll find helpful advice here from experts and amateurs alike.
In addition to general discussions about topics financial and otherwise, The Motley Fool also offers boards dedicated to individual companies; Apple
In the mood for more financial know-how? Check out the rest of our 10 Essential Money Lessons.
Intel, Berkshire Hathaway, and Microsoft are Inside Value recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Intel, and has written covered calls on those shares. The Fool also owns shares of Berkshire; Berkshire and Apple are Stock Advisor picks. Finally, Diageo is an Income Investor selection. Phew!
Fool editor Jim Mueller got his start at the Fool by reading and writing on the discussion boards. He can still be found hanging out there under the name TMFGebinr, or plain old gebnir, too. (Yes, Dungeons & Dragons played a role in that name.) His wife owns shares of Microsoft and GE, and he owns shares of Apple and Berkshire, but he held no financial position in any other company mentioned at the time of publication. The Fool is all about investors writing for investors -- especially on our discussion boards.