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Breaking Down the Walls

One of my goals for Couple Money is to highlight personal finance sites, book, and people that I think can help you with your finances. I mentioned earlier this week that I enjoyed reading Norma Yaeger’s book, Breaking Down Walls. Her memoir was a mix of the personal with her story about building a successful career in a male dominated industry and education with her advice about investing and finances. 

After enjoying the book, I asked if I could submit a few questions that I had and Mrs. Yaeger was gracious and kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer them.

What motivated you to write Breaking Down the Walls?

Initially, I was interested in leaving a legacy for my family. I have two daughters, two sons, three granddaughters and two grandsons. I wanted them to know my story so that it would help them to achieve whatever they had a desire to do with their lives. I wanted them to never say “NO”, I cannot do it. Find a way to do it for yourself. Do not wait for others. My book tells the reader that the fear of failure is the worst enemy of success..

I really appreciated that you fought hard to maintain your integrity in an industry that has a reputation for putting profits over people. How did you strike that balance between taking care of your clients and making a profit?

I kept my integrity because my clients were very important to me. I worked very hard to get my clients and I wanted them to get the best advise I could give them. The longevity of my career depended on the profits of my clients. If I took care of my clients honestly and ethically, my profits will follow.

How did you educate/steer customers on making investments for the long run instead of looking for quick wins?

norma yaeger

In the early years of the career, we did not have the speedy computers. Actively trading the market was not possible. Investing in stocks meant for the long term. When programs for retirement became popular, long term investments were necessary for one’s retirement. Speculative short term trading only became the tools of the brokerage company’s traders who had access to the computers.

The computer age changed the industry. However, I still believe the investors who are interested in retirement must think long term and invest in good companies. Trading in and out will also cost an investor a great deal of money in commissions and that will also effect his profits and losses.

Rapid trading is for the professionals and not for the public. The market must be watched carefully every minute of the day. My clients were told how I felt about investments vs trading.

I’ve read that women are conservative investors. Based on your experience, how much of that is true (if any)?

It is my opinion that women are more conservative in their investments. It is much more difficult for women, who may be earning less on a job, to be able to recoup the losses that may be realized from speculative trading. Many women look to their retirement accounts as their only investments. By nature that means long term investment grade stocks and bonds. Women tend to research stocks that they know and understand. Women generally invest in dividend paying stock and interest paying bonds. These can also increase their income.

Have you seen a change in how women invest? For example, how hands on (or off) have they become with their portfolio management? Do women tend to favor a certain investment style?

I have noticed that many investors today are making their investments into mutual funds. There are many funds with different objectives and these funds are managed by professional analysts. They are making the investments with knowledge of the companies they are purchasing for the portfolios.

Many high net worth individuals will hire personal managers to manage their portfolios, but this requires a great deal of money for investment. The Mutual Funds offer diversification for your investment no matter how small it may be.

Finally, as a mother, how did you help your children with learning about investing and finances?

I had chores for my children and they received an allowance for these chores. I then set up a budget with them on how to spend the money. Sometimes they had money left over and we then spoke about how to save their extra money. The savings account was the first investment for their extra money. As they got older, the savings account got larger and it was possible to talk about other ways to spend and invest their savings. Stocks and investments was table talk in my home.

My children learned early about investments, savings and speculation. They all have retirement accounts today and invest long term. I hope they are teaching their children about how to handle their money and investments. All my children and grandchildren have read my book.

Thoughts on Breaking Down the Walls

If you have the opportunity, I think you should pick up a copy of Yaeger’s memoir. There are plenty of stories not only about how investing in the stock market has changed, but also has some incredible gems on being smarter with your investments.

3 Investing Lessons from Breaking Down Walls

While I enjoy brushing up on finances with a good book even now again, I also love reading beyond the numbers. I finished reading Breaking Down the Walls and it is one of those books that make finance (in this case investing) fascinating and part of it is the perfect mix of memoir, money, and history.

It’s a new memoir from Norma Yaeger, founder of both Yaeger Securities and Yaeger Capital Markets. She had spent several decades in the investment business and has a number of gems and stories to share in her book. I want to share a few investing lessons and highlights that I enjoyed.norma yaeger

Your Money, Your Choices

While it’s understandable to want to get information from others about investing, in the end it’s your responsibility on how you do it. I know many Couple Money readers have worked hard for their paychecks, so I encourage all of your to make the most of everyone.

Yaeger does a wonderful job explaining how you have the ability to manage your investments wisely even when there are some brokers in Wall Street who tell you otherwise.

Investing Versus Trading

Yaeger succinctly explains the two schools of thought when it comes to the stock market. there are investors and then there are traders. Investors are those looking at the big picture and willing to hold on to their investments for years. They will carefully research every purchase they make. The noise of most financial/stock market show and columns is ignored.

Traders on the other hand are looking for the quick turnaround. Their main focus is the stock price. With the tools available today, there is a strong temptation to day trade, but unless you understand and are willing to accept the risks involved, you’re better off avoiding it.

Treat Investments Like People

I love Yaeger’s idea of vetting investments by getting to know the corporations you invest in. So many times, personal finance magazines, shows, and websites give a few superficial numbers about a ‘hot’ investment to entice people to buy, but true investing involves more. It’s about become familiar with how the company is operated and discovering their financial health.

Even if you choose to invest in index funds, make sure you understand what you’re investing in. What fees are involved?

Thoughts on Breaking Down Walls

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Breaking Down the Walls. There is more to her book then investing advice, there are some wonderful nuggets as Yaeger was able to clearly explain the differences between the markets then and now while sharing her insights on the investing in an engaging way.

Enjoying the Sights in St. Louis

We just got back from a fun week in St Louis after attending FinCon. I loved meeting up with writers from my favorite personal finance blogs and getting to meet some new ones. Like my previous work trips, my husband and baby girl came along for the ride.  Neither one of us had really been to St Louis so we saw this as a chance to locate favorite places to eat, drink, and have fun.

While the conference gave us plenty of opportunities to hang downtown with fellow attendees, we also wanted to explore some spots as a family. We had fun checking our the Gateway Arch Thursday morning. If you haven’t been there, you should definitely go! It’s $10 each to go to take the tram to the top, but it was worth it. The views were incredible (see below for my attempt at capturing it).

st louis arch pic from the top

Besides getting pictures on the Arch we also made our way around the Museum of Westward Expansion which is free. You can see the weapons, tools, and transportation methods used to expand the nation’s territory. Getting to the Arch was simple as there were bus stops and a light rail station nearby.

We also got to meet some new people during FINCON while going on a beer tour through downtown and drank at local brewing  spots like Schlafly (loved their pumpkin ale!) and Alpha Brewing (red ale was my favorite).

After we said good-bye to new and old buddies from the conference, we spent half of Sunday over in Forest Park.  In case you’re not familiar with it, Forest Park is THE park in St. Louis, with over 1,300 acres that includes:

We hung out at the Zoo and it was fantastic! Admission was free (some special attractions charge a small fee) and there were plenty of animals to see. The zoo is divided roughly into six areas including Red Rocks, River’s Edge and The Wilds.  Our baby girl tired herself out, there was simply too much to and appreciate in one day. With just having to pay for our lunch there and metro-cards for travel, it was a fantastic way to enjoy St. Louis without spending a ton of money.

Speaking of frugally enjoying St. Louis, I had the pleasure of discovering the voice behind St. Louis on the Cheap! When I told her we wanted to check out some local spots to eat at, she had a list of eateries and neighborhoods to explore. With our limited time, we couldn’t use all her suggestions, so I’m sharing them here so you can hopefully try them out next time you’re in St. Louis.

  • King and I: 3157 S Grand Ave, St Louis, MO 63118 (Thai Food)
  • Blueberry Hill: 6504 Delmar Blvd, St Louis, MO 63130 (Burgers and Music)
  • The Hill: A neighborhood that borders Forest Park with numerous Italian restaurants including Rigazzi’s, Lorenzo’s, and Adriana’s.
  • Soulard: A historic French neighborhood south of  The Arch near the Mississippi river that is home to Bogart’s Smoke House, 1860′s, and one of the more popular farmer’s markets in the area.

If you been to these places or know of some delicious eateries, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thoughts on Visit St. Louis

We had a great time last week and getting learn our way around St. Louis. If you live in the area or have the chance to stay in town, please check out St. Louis on the Cheap to find some great deals.

Do You Plan Your Gifts?

One reason I liked when friends had gift registries for their weddings and baby showers is that I know that I’m getting something that they really want and/or would need. I especially appreciate this as I’m cleaning up the house and going through all of our rooms and closets, sorting everything that we seemed to have accumulated over the years.

My hope is to plan my gifts in a way that allow me to give my loved ones something thoughtful (while staying within my budget).

Saving Up for Gifts

While I’ve given gifts spontaneously (they’re fun), some of my favorite ones are the planned gifts where I found JUST THE RIGHT gift for my loved one.  Some having some money saved up just for gifts has given me opportunities to pick presents up without stressing over.

For me, I find it incredibly easy to just set up transfers into my personal savings account  to keep me on track. Automation allows me to build my savings as I go about the rest of my finances.

Planning Gifts

Every once in awhile a friend or my family will ask me what I want and when I’m put on the spot I draw a blank. I also hate when I’m looking for a gift for someone and I know they’ve mentioned at some point something that caught their eye and for the life of me, I can’t remember it.

I found a simple and handy solution for both problems – creating gift sheets. I have a document on my Google Drive to handle both situations. Having it online allows me to check it where I go.

Another option is pinning on pinterest, it’s quick and easy to set up a board just for gifts. I prefer using a spreadsheet because I also make notes on prices to make sure I get a good deal. Even with planning, I still have a budget that I have to keep with.

Thoughts on Planning for Gifts

I like to hear from you about how your save for gifts. How organized are you when shopping for gifts? What gifts do you like to receive?

Photo Credit:  erika g

Finding Furniture Treasures at Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops

I mentioned last week that we’re on a mission to get all of our clutter and junk out of our house. We’ve started with getting rid of stuff on the first floor of our townhouse and we’re happy with the results so far. However with everything that we’re tossing we do need to get some pieces to replace them.

We’re not trying to swap something in for something we threw out; rather we’re trying to find better pieces that fit us both in form and function. For example, we had a TV stand that was either practical nor attractive in our living room. We had stuff overflowing out of it due to lack of storage.

As you can see in the post picture, our new console has enough space for all of our stuff and then some. We also got some end tables with shelves that allowed us to tastefully store our toddler’s toys downstairs.

Where to Shop for Great Deals on Furniture

You can imagine that means we have to budget for these things. For us since we’re looking for well made pieces that will last for years, we’re looking at used furniture to stay within our budget. Thankfully we have a friend who is also an awesome interior designer and a fantastic bargain hunter. She’s been finding just the right things for our home as we get it ready to sell it.

Since I know there are other couples looking for treasures with their furniture hunting, I wanted to share some things I’ve found.

The good news is that many cities have plenty of options for finding some hidden treasures.

  • Thrift Stores: Shops like Goodwill and Re-store can be great places to start off with furniture hunting. We found a great mirror for the entry way for $10.
  • Local Specialty Stores: Consignment shops can be an excellent source for well made pieces. One note – be ready to negotiate if you want to snag a bargain. Some owners are more willing to work with you. I’ve seen discounts of 30-50% on the tag price if you’re patient.
  • Craigslist/Garage Sales: You can gain direct access to sellers who are eager to get stuff out of their homes which can mean huge saving for you. Unfortunatley you have to be quick with your decisions as someone else may get to it before you do.

Think Before You Buy

Once you have a list of places you want to check out, taking a few minutes to prepare can really pay off. Asking yourself a few questions can help you decide if you want to buy a particular piece of furniture or if it would better pass on it.

  • Who will be using it? You want something that is great in forma and function. When were looking at coffee tables, we had to remember that our toddler  and her friends would be around it constantly so we narrowed our search accordingly. It’s no good to have a cute piece and you’re stressing over it constantly because of kids or pets.
  • How frequently will it be used?: When you’re on a budget, budgeting more for the furniture that you will use and abuse and spending less on the stuff that will be background pieces.
  • Does it fit with your style? Eclectic can be great, but if you think your potential purchase will clash with your stuff and cause you trouble, it’s okay to pass on it. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

When you’re at the stores,  you should make sure you’re getting a thorough look at the furniture before you spend the cash. Your two main concerns will fall into the construction or the condition of the goods. With the construction, you’re looking for something solid that will hold up in your house for years. It can actually save you money in the long run if you pay more upfront for a well crafted piece than replacing it every few years.

When examining the condition, go ahead and ignore minor scuffs and blemishes. You can always re-stain or paint it. You’re making sure that’s in usable and sturdy. Base your assessment on your do it yourself skills. If you can’t get a shelf straight, you may want to skip out on the buffet that needs a lot of do it yourself love.

Thoughts on find Used Furniture Treasures

I shared what I’ve learned so far with my own adventures; I’d love to hear from more seasoned furniture hunters. How did you pick out your furniture for your place? What are some of your favorite ones? How did you find them?