SEC OKs Use of Social Media To Share Corporate Information, But Do Investors Want That?

SEC Social Media

As a lover of tech and early adopter, I was intrigued when Marketwired contacted me and offered one of their newest research about investing. Along with the info they send me a great infographic that captured the research in visual form. It was very eye-opening.

On April 2, 2013 social media was officially deemed an acceptable venue for publicly traded companies to disclose material information to investors by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

As an “over 40” investor and user of social media, I’m not often the target of financial information that’s served up online. I see a lot of articles aimed at Millenials, but when it comes to most of us Gen-Xers and BabyBoomers we’re often not seen as people who access financial information online. And when you look at  people who are seen as visionaries or “in the know” in the financial industry you’re often looking as people over 40. With their heavy influence, they’re trying to use it to stop many of the changes the financial sector is trying to incorporate with regard to digitally accessing and sharing financial data and information simply because they don’t think it’s a good idea.

Part of me agrees that social media isn’t the right place to disseminate important information to investors, especially given all the crazy changes implemented on social networks that actually prevent us from seeing information we really want. Nonetheless, why should we need to wait days or weeks for a mailing when we’re online enough to get the information in more of a real-time framework?

Marketwired’s April 2013 research shows that younger people (Millennials) want the ability to get their financial information through social networks, if they so wish. Gen-Xers are still more traditional in how they wan to receive their important financial information, although this is such a large group that it’s actually not easy to generalize us “over-40” folks.

Some key findings of the Marketwired study include:

    • Early adopters see change as progress: While Warren Buffet’s Business Wire has stated that they believe the SEC ruling is a disservice to investors, the data shows the opposite. In fact, 70% of investors under 40 believe the SEC ruling to allow companies to distribute information via social media benefits investors. The data shows an emerging generational divide: 60% of respondents under 40 regularly consult social media to research investment options and 53% of respondents under 40 believe information provided through social media is credible when making an investment decision.
    • Resistance is futile: 49% of people say their companies block access to social networks, but that’s not stopping them. 57% of people under 40 regularly access social media on their personal devices, reinforcing their belief that news being shared on social channels is a critical element of the investment research process.
    • The future is already here: 40% say they are already using social media as a key source of information in the investment process. 80% of respondents believe more companies will disclose information via social media.

What do you think of companies using social media to share their important corporate info? Why does this matter? As the next generation of investors, analysts and researchers begin working on larger portfolios, social media will play a critical role in the process. This shift is already underway and will become more pronounced in the coming years. As a result, publicly traded companies can’t ignore social channels as a key investor relations tool.

Sara

It’s Your Money, Manage It

As a saver, I try really hard to manage my money. But here’s the thing, sometimes it’s a pain. Yes, I, the coupon addict and saver extraordinaire think money management is annoying. It’s a lot of work. And there are so many temptations!

Recently I signed up for Daily Worth. I came across the site by happenstance and thought it was pretty cool.  It’s a site specifically designed for women and has a community where women can go to get good information from other knowledgeable women. Every day they send an email with tips about how to manage money or understand financial terms. It’s not all about saving, but also gives helpful info on budgeting and investing and even spending.

Give it a try. If you don’t think it’s helpful you can tell them to stop sending you emails.

Sign up for Daily Worth.

Sara

Sometime You Just Have to Pay the (Wo)Man

Save for a rainy day. Put money away in case of emergency. Fund your flexible spending account. Stuff your mattress full of paper money. Whatever it is you do, sometimes you have to suck it up and dig into that savings. It’s the hand you’re dealt.

Gone are the days of $25 doctor co-pay, $5 prescriptions and minimal out of pocket for emergency room visits. Oh how I long for those day. Except about 5 years ago my primary care physician stopped taking insurance of any kind so he was ‘out of network’ which is insurance speak for you pay first and then we’ll tell you we won’t cover it. So I stopped going to my primary care physician primarily and went to my gynecologist. Except she was so busy I couldn’t always get in. And I hate waiting. And waiting with a child, at the GYN, is so fabulous. I know you wish you were me!

But because the fabulosity was greater than I could stand, I ended up not going. It’s OK, because I’m pretty healthy. And I did the free mobile mammogram thing with ZoniDuck every year like it was some girl’s day out programs. Fun!

Fast forward a few years and no more co-pay. The good ol’ days are gone. Replaced with a high deductible plan that covers not much and not that. And it doesn’t matter anyway because none of my three, yes 3, doctors take insurance.

Last week I went to see my homeopath. She doesn’t take insurance. I had put off going for about 6 months. I didn’t want to pay her going rate out of pocket. But it got to the point that I just had to stand up straight and deal with it. I couldn’t go much longer without seeing her. I was sick. My other doctors can’t help me fully. I needed to see the homeopath and have her give me the magic little pills.

I kept coming up with excuse after excuse. But what it came down to was that my health was suffering because of my frugality. Or cheapness. Probably cheapness at this point. And I’m not about cheap. I’m frugal, yes.

I know it’s difficult to write that check for several hundred dollars for a few minutes of listening and then some chicken scratch on a piece of paper with what you hope is the magical potion to make you feel better. And I also know that as a mom we’ll put everyone else before ourself. Often to our own detriment.

But when you find the right professional who can help, co-pay or no co-pay, high deductible or not, flexible spending flush or depleted you make the appointment and pay whatever price they ask. All in hopes that they find out what’s wrong and make all the bad go away.

I think I found the magic. I trust my homeopath. She totally got it in the first 10-minutes. No hemming or hawing. Right to the chase. Uncomfortable questions and all. I was honest. I cried. I knew she held the key to make me well again. I trust her. And I think it’s going to work. Now, if I would stop worrying about the money part.

This post is linked to Robyn’s Our Homeschool Home for  Mingle Monday. Tidymom is the featured blog this week. Check out the other blogs linked up or if you have a blog, please link up with Mingle Monday.

Our Homeschool Home

Sara

5 Ways To Live Below Your Means Without Feeling It

Money Clothesline

When you envision living below your means, what comes to mind?  I often thought that living below ones means meant that you had to make major sacrifices, wear clothes I didn’t really want or drive a car that I was embarrassed to be seen in.  However, over time I’ve discovered that there are ways to live below your means and not necessarily sacrifice a comfortable living.

The most important step in any savings program is to start slowly and proceed at your pace.  It’s much easier to find ways to cut out $5 – $10 a week than it is to eliminate $500 overnight.  I’ve come up with 5 ways you can live below your means, saving significantly, without really feeling it.

1.  Share, Borrow, Trade – There are many local and online resources where you can find items at no cost.  Your local library has new releases of both books and DVDs.  You neighbor may have a yard tool you can borrow.  Online resources such as Paperback Book Swap, Craigslist and Freecycle can help you reap significant savings.

2.  Buy with cash – Many financial experts, such as Dave Ramsey, say that you will spend 10% – 15% less if you use cash instead of credit.  There is something about handing over cash that makes you stop and contemplate just a moment longer.

3.  Check with your service providers to lower your costs – periodically you should call your local providers such as phone, cable, internet and ask if there are better rates available?  If you are given a lower rate, actually SAVE THE DIFFERENCE by transferring it to a savings account.

4.  Never pay full retail – If you are buying online, before you check out ALWAYS search for a coupon code.  It’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes.  All you have to do is type in the name of the website you’re purchasing from along with the word ‘coupon’ or ‘code’.  Whatever you save, make it an actual savings by transferring the money into your savings account.

5.  Eat/Cook at home – eating out can be costly.  Even if it’s the $1 menu at the fast food giant of your choice, it adds up over time.  In addition to saving money, eating/cooking at home can save you calories and help ensure you eat a healthy and balanced meal.  By eating more at home, your wallet and your body will thank you.

By incorporating these 5 simple changes into your daily routine you can see that living below your means without really feeling is possible!

How To Start Saving: 10 Easy Ways

Money_Tree

Why is it that starting the saving process is so hard?  OK, why is it that starting most things is hard?  Yes, yes, I know that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  And you do too!  And that’s what I’m getting at here.  We all know it needs to be done.  We all have some idea of how it is done – take money and put it somewhere that we can’t get it.  Most of us can master the ‘put it somewhere  that we can’t get it’ part.  It’s the first part, which involves the money.  If you have no money, it’s hard to save it.

The thing is, if we look hard enough we don’t even have to make major changes to find a few bucks to get our money tree started growing.  I’ve thought about this for a long time and have read other blogs and many financial planning books.  Interestingly, many of them say very similar things.  But I’m here to share with you 10 Easy Ways to start your saving journey.  You’re not going to get rich with these small steps, but they will get you on a path of seeing that you are able to take these first steps.

1.  Save your coins – at the end of the day, take all your coins and put them in a big jar.  At the end of the month you’ll be surprised at how much you have.

2.  Use your local library – if you’re an avid book reader (I’m reading 4 right now), check books out from your local library.  You can also check out movies as well.  Often you don’t even need to go in and hunt them down yourself.  I use my local library’s online hold system to reserve my books so all I have to do is go in and check them out.  Saves money AND time!  For every book you can check out instead of purchase, put the money you would have spent in your savings jar or transfer the money into an online savings account such as ING Direct.  (No link b/c you can go there yourself and I don’t want you to think I’m getting something for referring you)

3.  Eat at home – if you usually eat out twice a week (or more), by cutting back one day you can save $30-$50 (depending on family size and where you normally go) a week.  Transfer that money (or even half since you have to eat something and that still costs money) into your savings account.

4.  Use Coupons – you can easily save $10 a week on the things you buy if you use check coupon matching sites such as mine.  I don’t do all the stores, but if you need a store I don’t post just let me know because I can get it for you.  With 30 minutes of time a week you can save $520 a year!  Make the savings real by transferring the money saved using coupons into your savings account.

5.  Monitor your thermostat – determine if you can adjust it just one or two degrees to save a few dollars.  Keep track of your savings.

6.  Write down everything you spend – if you have to write it down you may reconsider the purchase.  If I know it’s not something I really need many times I don’t want to look at having made that purchase so I will choose not to.  Most of the time it’s something I could do without anyway.

7.  Always have water, tea, coffee, sports drink, etc. with you – never walk out of the house without something to drink.  If you’re tempted to stop and pick up a drink – even a soda at the quick-e-mart – that’s money you could save (and possibly time and calories!) for your someday.  Just $2 a week and you’re over $100!

8.  Go to the early movie – while some may say you shouldn’t go to the movies at all, for many that’s just not a reality.  So, instead of foregoing it totally head out to the early movie and pocket the few dollar savings.  Do this for 2 movies a month and  you’ve saved over $100 very easily.

9.  Maintain your vehicle – yes this will be one of those Spend Money to Save Money moments, but you and your car will thank you.  Proper tire inflation helps you get better gas mileage and maximize the life of the tires, regular oil changes and other maintenance can give you more time doing what is important instead of waiting for the tow truck.

10.  Pay yourself $10 every week just because – you can actually pick any amount you wish.  The whole point is to recognizing that saving is a priority.  You are mentally telling yourself that you are important, just as your other bills are too.  Instead of waiting to see what is left over at the end of the month, save from the beginning!

By instituting these 10 easy ways to get started saving, you can easily have over $1,000 saved in one year.  That may now sound like a lot and maybe you’re thinking that it’s not much.  But, your journey to freedom tomorrow begins with saving today.

I know you can do it.  I believe each person’s ability to achieve anything they set their mind to doing!

Health Insurance: 5 Ways To Save When Buying Your Own

Over the past year we’ve all heard of the staggering number of Americans who have lost their health care coverage.  Some lost their insurance when their job was eliminated.  Others still have a job but their employer couldn’t afford to continue offering health insurance.  Many retirees lost benefits and still others have seen their premiums soar out of reach.  Millions of Americans are now left to sift through the convoluted language of health insurance policies to try and compare apples to apples to get the coverage they need at a price they can afford.  Even if you read the policy and the slick marketing materials provided, often it can cost you thousands of dollars in what turns out to be uncovered events because the policy language is like reading a foreign novel.

Taking control of your health care coverage is something I think is greatly needed.  Many are at the mercy of whatever someone in HR thinks is acceptable, regardless of what each individual employee really needs.  Sure, it’s impossible to tailor a plan to each person but many end up getting less because the costs of providing some services are too high.  In addition, healthy people are often over-charged because they are pooled with others in the company who have serious health problems.

Health insurance is regulated at the state level, and some states are more protective of their citizens than others.  There is no federal/national oversight and the insurance companies are often left to police themselves.  This has left us with the ongoing and very contentious debate about health care that has been in the news for the past several months.

What do you look for in choosing your health insurance policy?  First, you want to compare them side by side.  I came across this booklet that will allow you to do just that.  It is a PDF and you can download it directly to your computer.

Here are 5 Ways To Save When Buying Your Own Health Insurance:

1.  Shop around – as with many things, get quotes from different companies and use the worksheets from this booklet to compare the plans side by side.  If you belong to a professional organization (realtor, lawyer, actor) check with them to find out if there is an arrangement with an insurer to offer discounted plans to members.  Check with friends who own small businesses, as they might have a contact they feel offers a good product.  Call the company that handles your life insurance or investments to see if they offer health insurance.  Once you have chosen a few, check them out with your state insurance department to make sure they do not have open complaints.

2.  Purchase only the coverage you need – do not over insure yourself or your family.  It’s a waste of money and if you’ll never use the coverage they why pay for it?  For example, if there is no possibility you or someone you will be covering will become pregnant then do not have that coverage.  If you need to cover your entire family but one person has a medical condition that may have high premiums associated with it, consider getting separate policies.  No one said a husband and wife had to have the same policy.  And family coverage might not be the best price if one parent is ill but the other and children are not.  Your goal is to buy the most comprehensive policy at the lowest price.

3.  Deductible – know exactly what is covered in the deductible.  If drug costs and doctor co-pays do not apply, make sure you take this into consideration when evaluating the policy against the others.  If the policy covers more than one person, find out if the deductible is for everyone or if each person must meet that number.  This could mean thousands out of pocket if you are unsure.

Continue reading “Health Insurance: 5 Ways To Save When Buying Your Own”

5 Ways To Save On Bank Services

Banking

In our high-tech world, you just can’t get along without a bank account.  Sure, there are a few people who live in a cash only world but for the majority of us we need some type of checking or savings account.  Often these accounts come with hidden, and no-so-hidden fees.  It seems that there is a very high cost to the convenience of banking at a specific institution.

Most of us choose our financial institution for personal reasons.  It’s close to work, close to home, has a branch in the grocery store, has ATMs where we need them, and many others.  And we may be lulled into complacency after years of being a customer.  But times are changing!  We, as savvy consumers, are taking control of our finances and reclaiming every penny.

5 Ways To Save On Bank Services

1.  ATMs — use only ATMs that do not charge you a fee.  The price of convenience can be very high.  If you withdrawal $20 and pay the now typical $2 ‘convenience fee’ you are paying the equivalent of a 10% surcharge for the privilege of using your own money.  If you can’t get to a free ATM, consider stopping at the store to pick up a necessity and getting cash back.

2.  Check Printing — Banks and Credit Unions can charge upward of $25 for a box or two of plain checks.  By using a discount check printing company such as Walmart Checks, Current or VistaPrint you can save up to $20 per order!

3.  Overdraft Fees — The average overdraft costs consumers $30, just in fees from their own bank.  Add to this the fees from the merchant and you’re easily at $40 or more!  Per incident.  By linking your checking account to your savings account, you can often avoid having insufficient funds and thus overdrafting your account.  Some banks and credit unions will let you have an overdraft loan.  These loans are not the optimal solution but can save you from paying high overdraft fees in exchange for paying a small amount of interest on the loan.  The best way to avoid overdraft fees is to keep your account in balance and be honest with what you have in the account.

4.  Online Banking — More and more banks are charging its customers to complete face to face transactions.  Banking technology has evolved to provide a very safe environment in which on-line transactions are quick, seamless and save both time and money.   With online banking transactions and bill-payer services, you may never have to go into the bank again!  Check with your bank to verify their policy regarding on-line banking.  If they charge a fee you should shop around for a new financial institution.

5.  Monthly Maintenance Fees — It’s your money and you should not have to pay the bank to keep it.  If your financial institution charges you a monthly fee for the privilege of having your account with them, find out how you can get rid of that fee.  Often, the fee can be waived if you have your pay check signed up for direct deposit.  If you carry a significant balance or have multiple accounts in good standing you need to ask about waiving that monthly fee.  Stop paying for the privilege of having the bank hold your money!

By implementing these 5 simple ides you can see real savings in your pocket!  Don’t let banks charge you for services you don’t need.  Banks earn interest off the money you have them safeguarding.  Yes, they are a business and a for profit one at that.  But you are the consumer and you have a choice.  It’s your money, don’t give it away unless you make that choice!  Every little bit saved gets you one step closer to your ‘someday’!

Free Credit Report: Know Your Financial Health

As the first week of the new year starts to look more distant in our rear view mirror, I want to remind you that one of the best ways to evaluate your financial health is to check your credit report periodically.  Creditors are becoming more and more aggressive with their collections and often you aren’t even aware.  In addition, every year millions of people find out that their credit report contains erroneous information and are left scrambling to fix it because they are trying to buy a car or a house or get some type of credit.  When trying to obtain credit, know in advance what your report looks like so  you can present the best picture of your financial health and are not given a higher interest rate, or worse, denied credit due to information that does not belong to  you or is not factual.

Continue reading “Free Credit Report: Know Your Financial Health”

Sara