money matters

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No matter how financially savvy you are, there’s always room for improvement.

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Have you been swept up in bitcoin mania?

Bitcoins purchased at the beginning of this year were valued at $13.50. As of Dec. 9, they were trading at close to $900. That’s a rise of more than 6000 percent!

Many folks are eyeing the virtual currency as an easy way to make huge profits. But KPLU financial commentator Greg Heberlein urges caution. Bitcoin prices may very well continue their march into the stratosphere. Or the bubble could burst.

PRNewsFoto/Tableau Software, Inc.

In the Center of the Universe, Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, stands Tableau Software. Tableau is 10 years old and has been a publicly owned company for just six months. It’s growing fast. In just the past three years, employment has gone from fewer than 200 to more than 1,000.

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein says Tableau is a company that local investors should keep their eyes on.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

When Microsoft holds its annual meeting Nov. 19, shareholders will finish voting for the company’s board of directors. Usually it’s a straightforward affair, but this time, the candidacy of John W. Thompson will be closely examined.

Recently, a company that advises major shareholders on corporate governance urged shareholders to vote against Thompson.

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It’s not uncommon for heirs to stumble across old stock certificates when disposing of an estate. What should you do with them?

If the stock is for a recognized company that’s still in business, your task is relatively easy. If there’s no cancellation stamp on the certificate, any brokerage can cash it in for you (but you’ll need to provide the necessary paperwork proving you inherited it).

If you don’t recognize the company name and can’t find it online, then you have some work to do. We’ll help you get started.

U.S. Treasury / National Archives and Records Administration

Are U.S. savings bonds still a worthwhile investment? KPLU financial commentator Greg Heberlein thinks so.

Even with all the government shutdown shenanigans in Washington, D.C., Greg says savings bonds are still one of the safest investments you can buy.

In addition to safety, savings bonds are ideal for savers of modest means who need to sock a few dollars away each month. You can buy a savings bond for as little as $25.

Death and IRAs

Sep 17, 2013
Dave Meyer / KPLU

You've worked hard to fund your golden years with an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). But what happens to that money when you die?

Well, since you won't be around, maybe you're not worried about it. But financial commentator Greg Heberlein says a little planning now can make things easier on your loved ones down the road.

www.SeniorLiving.org / flickr.com

Why are exchange traded funds (ETFs) growing in popularity?

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein says the ability to buy and sell them at any time during market hours makes them very appealing.

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We’ve all seen the TV commercials:  Fred Thompson, Robert Wagner, Henry Winkler and others urging us to sign up for a reverse mortgage. 

As alluring as the ads are, financial commentator Greg Heberlein says anyone considering such a deal needs to give it some serious thought.

Is multi-level marketing (MLM) a good way to make money? At a time when family budgets are strained and jobs are hard to find, it’s a fair question.

KPLU financial commentator Greg Heberlein recommends you do your homework before signing on with an MLM company.

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To get an enormous stock market gain, buy a penny stock.

To risk losing all of your investment, buy a penny stock. 

Still interested?

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein recommends you steer clear of penny stocks.

 

The financial markets have been roiling lately, a sign that a change of direction might be about to occur, or already is underway. However, crystal balls tend to be more cloudy than clear. No one consistently appraises the markets accurately. 

No matter the market direction, financial advisers are not timid about telling you to rebalance your portfolio. But KPLU financial commentator Greg Heberlein says it's OK to ignore that advice.

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In our digital world of social media, blogs and the like, is the newspaper industry a dinosaur? 

Only 11 newspaper businesses are publicly owned. Is it foolish to invest in them? Legendary investor Warren Buffett doesn't think so. He's acquired 28 papers in the past couple of years.

A veteran of 32 years at The Seattle Times, financial commentator Greg Heberlein, can't help but believe Buffett is on the right track.

jking89 / flickr.com

The financial media are full of suggestions for timing the stock market. We usually discredit those schemes on Money Matters, but this month we talk about one that might have at least a little merit to it.

The strategy is to “sell in May and go away.” 

It’s based on the notion that the six months from late fall to late spring are great for owning stocks. Conversely, the period starting in May is not.  Those periods are often referred to as the winter months vs. the summer months.

Does it really work?

Financial commentator Greg Heberlein has just returned from a vacation in Vietnam and Cambodia. While there, he couldn't help but notice how westernized the Southeast Asian economy is becoming.

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