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December 17, 2009

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The largest mutual fund company in the USA, Fidelity Investments, of which I am a longtime & extremely satisfied client, sent me an e-mail yesterday whereby I can select an animated & musical Christmas card to send to 10 friends. For each card I send Fidelity donates $1 towards purchasing musical instruments for school orchestras.
The offer can be used over and over again if needed.
I thought this was a great idea, of course I am sure Fidelity will add the new e-mail addresses to their distribution lists used to attract new customers so there's something in it for them as well.

Instead of giving to one specific charity, where I'm not exactly sure what's done with my dollars, I have my own cause. My husband and I are putting one guy through college, here in Chile. That makes it near impossible to stop my donation because we know him, he's a real person, we chose him, and if we ever decide one month that we don't have the money that means he can't go to school.

It also makes the monthly budgeted amount easy since tuition only changes once a year.

Old Limey,

Why Fidelity and not Vanguard? Just wondering

Low-wage job + Getting Your Employer to Help = LOL

Terry, it isn't just low wage jobs that don't help...I work for a company owned by a self-made millionaire who is tighter than a fresh pickle jar lid.

"If you'd prefer to help out a charity versus receive a present, why not ask people to contribute instead?"

Because, from my experience, people get offended. Yes, my family was offended or simply ignored me when I asked them to do this.

@Paul Williams
I used to have an account at Vanguard back in the 80's. When I retired in 1992, I rolled my 401K into Fidelity. In the next year or two I started putting the computer software capabilities that I learned during my long career in aerospace to work, with the help of a proprietary database of mutual funds, market indexes, and fund families, to which I subscribed. I wrote my own software for ranking funds and fund families, and taught myself all about the technical analysis of stockmarket trends, and started writing my own computer program to fill an analysis void that existed in the early days of the Internet. Later I marketed my software to a considerable number of other investors that used the same proprietary database with considerable success. For many years I used my website to keep my customers advised of my own holdings at all times but I stopped doing that a few years ago.

One of my conclusions back then, after much analysis, was that Fidelity had the best family of funds for overall performance. That's when I consolidated accounts that I had with T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, Invesco, American Century and others, and moved them all to Fidelity. In the early days of the Internet, knowledge was hard to come by and with the proprietary database I had to work with I was able to trade the Fidelity Select family very successfully indeed. The coming of age of the Internet and the wide availability of large fund networks changed things. Now there is no earthly reason to have one's money spread all over the place and residing in accounts at different companies. Having one very trustworthy institution hold your assets greatly simplifies managing your money and is an especially good idea as you get older and have to consider estate planning and inheritance issues. I also find the Fidelity Active Trader Pro software to be an exceptionally well written and valuable portfolio management tool even though I don't use it for analysis. I have found Fidelity's 24/7 customer service to be incredible with the phone answered after very few rings. As your portfolio increases and you move up to "Premium" or "Private Client" access, the experience of the people you deal with also rises considerably.

Today, even though I keep all of my money at Fidelity, with thousands of funds at my disposal I only buy a Fidelity fund if it turns out that it is at the very top of my rankings and happens to be the best fund of its type at the time. Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, American Century, or other large trustworthy brokerage companies make equally good custodians and offer their own large fund networks.

The other issue that you and I no doubt disagree over is that I have no use personally for financial planners or advisors and manage an 8 figure portfolio of my family's assets without having to pay up-front load fees or management fees to a financial advisor. I am also proud to say that I do not believe in "Buy & Hold". I am a "Momentum" investor and strive to always have our assets trending upwards at all times, doing so has enabled me to compile an oustanding investment history since starting in 1992, especially during the DOT.COM bubble and more recently during the effects of the deep recession that we have experienced and the jobless recovery ahead.

As the authors of "The Millionaire Next Door" stated, "I am my own favorite charity."

That being said, one of my favorite ways to give during the holidays is to buy food, clothes, or presents for a specific family. If I don't have the money, then I have the time to help others, moving to a new house or chopping firewood.

@Old Limey:

Not sure if you'll see this, but I just wanted to let you know that I don't think everyone needs a financial planner - especially you. Anyone willing to put in a little time to study and learn about personal finance can do just fine themselves. The only reason I have a job is because most people don't want to do this. I think it's a bit of a waste to pay me to do some pretty simple stuff, but I like it and others don't.

I appreciate that you hold a different investment philosophy than FMF or myself, but you don't attack him every time he posts about index funds and buy & hold investing. You've got a fascinating history and wonderful insights. I hope you continue to share!

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