II. Education - While it might be better if financial planning were a significant part of the curriculum in high school or, at least, in undergrad college programs, the fact is that most of us do without the basics of money management. In my view, this is a deficiency that it is well to overcome as early as practicable. If one's regular coursework in higher education does not already include, as a minimum, how to create and stick with a budget, how to value stocks and/or pick good mutual funds consistent with one's objectives, and how to manage a portfolio, then it is best to seek convenient ways to fill in these gaps in one's level of knowledge. Here are a few tips along these lines:
- Motley Fool has numerous discussion boards and other informational offerings about budgeting, financial planning, stock selection, etc.
- The American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) also has good investment education resources.
- If one has a chance, it can be helpful to get into an investment club. One might even start one if none are available that can be easily joined.
- Investment or financial planning workshops are another fine way to augment one's knowledge in this sphere. Some are offered for free by brokerages or other financial institutions. Others, such as through AAII, can be participated in at reasonable prices.
- Reading books, magazines, newspapers, and online articles can be vital to enhancing one's knowledge base in this arena. Here are my top investment related tomes:
- The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham, revised edition, updated with commentary by Jason Zweig (Collins Business Essentials Edition, 2006);
- The Money Masters, by John Train;
- The Essential Buffett, by Robert Hagstrom;
- The Great Crash 1929, by John Kenneth Galbraith;
- Value Investing from Graham to Buffett and Beyond, by Greenwald, Sonkin, and Van Biema;
- Value Investing Made Easy, by Janet Lowe.