Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What to do, What to do...

So I've clearly been on vacation for this whole summer. Maybe not a physical vacation, but certainly a mental vacation. And now that September looms and I'm coming back to earth, I realize that my finances are in disarray. Mental disarray, that is.

While I was away, the price of gas went down. Considering we drove 3,000 miles in our trusty Chevy Prizm (ie Toyota Corolla), it was a welcome reprieve from the oil madness. And while our economy is floating about as well at the Titanic, there's positive and negative sides to the drama, never mind the economic debate about are we or aren't we in a recession. So while all this was going on, what did I do? I ate Maine lobster. And lots of it.

Thank god for autopilot. Every month our checking account is drained for our Roth IRAs and our ING accounts (travel, Christmas, gym membership, car, emergency fund). It's not a lot of money, really, but over the course of a year it adds up to a softer cushion than a crash landing. And so not much changed. Well, except for the drooping value of my IRA, and the fact the car fund and travel fund got drained.

So I realized when I got back that I like to have my head actively wrapped around my finances. Autopilot or not. And that part of all that sitting around dreaming up goals and ways to meet them is the planning part of financial planning. After looking at my Roth IRA mutual funds, I decided to sell off one of the losers (I know I'm not supposed to do that but whatever) and transferred it to my online brokerage account. Why? Because I'm convinced that the iPhone will propel Apple farther than the S&P average.

However, I'm sure there's an actual, like, method to picking stocks that involves math and other values of sound judgment. So over the next few days I'll dig up some dusty econ book and figure out just how a person looks at a stock and assesses whether it is a good buy or not. And since I'm feeling like a delinquent poster, I'll post my trials and tribulations as an amateur stock picker here.

I'm excited about my project, but a little worried. While I can appreciate the crack-like epidemic that is sweeping iPhoners, it is, after all, my retirement we're talking about here.