Have you ever asked yourself, “I wish I could ask Robert something today?” You know, beyond the usual he posts on his site.
Well, today is your lucky day.
For the next 24 hours I’ll answering any questions you have, similar to Reddit’s popular AMA (Ask Me Anything). It’s your chance to ask me anything you’ve ever wanted to but been too busy, nervous, or thought off topic to ask – nothing’s off limits. It can be about my my money, your your money, relationships, career, debt, blogging, sex, entrepreneurship, or even child rearing. You ask it, I answer it.
Leave your questions in the comments below, and I’ll answer them back in this same post here. So make sure to check back as the day progresses…
Ready? I’ll go first:
What’s your favorite football team?
Sad to say, but I’m a Chargers fan. It’s a life built on consistent disappointment.
What are you currently reading?
I have such a hard time reading, so I actually get to read very little. Instead, I listen to podcasts on my drive to work and back. It gives me about 40 minutes of time each day. You can check out the Top Investing Podcasts here. However, I do have two books on my desk that I’ve been meaning to get to:
Okay, here we go:
So, are you up right now? – Mike H.
Yes! You caught me while I’m still up. I’m pretty much a night owl, and prefer to stay up late and sleep in. If I could build my ideal day, I would probably sleep in until 9am-10am and stay up until 2am. Hopefully my response was fast enough for you 🙂
I’m back awake and answering some awesome questions from overnight:
What are you investing in right now? – James W.
I’m looking at mREITs again. I’ve been looking to get back into the sector for about 6 months and I finally pulled the trigger. Some of the companies I’ve been looking at include CYS, AGNC, TWO. The difference this time around is that I’m looking at hybrid REITs more than just government mREITs. Hybrid REITs invest in all types of mortgages – commercial, jumbo, and government backed.
As always, I like large cap dividend paying stocks as well, and maintain the largest amount of my portfolio in these companies. When looking at dividend paying companies, I like to invest in companies that serve needs, not wants. So, I like healthcare essentials, natural resources, and utilities. I typically avoid tech.
What are your top two pieces of advice to improve my site Prop Trading Futures? – Robert M.
After checking out your site for a bit, here are my thoughts. First, the homepage is pretty plain. I don’t quite get what you’re about. It would be cool to see more of your “About” page on your sidebar on the homepage – maybe your picture, and a little about what you can expect to find on the site.
Second, it looks like you’re using the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin, but you’re not filling in the Title and Description when making new posts. You’re posts, as a result, are just pulling the first sentences to be the description. So, instead of having something helpful for readers via search, the visitor sees something like “Hi, I’m putting this together on Sunday” – which is clearly not descriptive of the article. Make sure that you’re nailing these basics of SEO before publishing to gain more search traffic.
Do you have any pets? – Monica S.
Yes, I have a dog named Abby. She is half black lab, half English golden retriever. However, she looks like a small black lab.
What do you think about options trading? Do you do that? – Punit S.
I think that options trading can be very lucrative – but it’s trading, not investing. Also, it takes a lot of time and work to do your research and setup trades. And you need to be pretty good at math to calculate spreads. I used to trade options a lot more, but I was break-even at it at best. I don’t have the time or patience for it anymore.
However, I do use a covered call strategy in flat markets to make extra income on my current positions. This is where I’ll sell calls on my current stocks, pocket the option premium, and hope the price doesn’t rise to the strike price. I can typically make an extra few basis points on my investment leveraging this strategy.
I’m worried that I’m going to go into default on my student loans. I only have $8,000 left, but I lost my job and don’t think I can make my payments. What should I do? – Anne A.
There are quite a few things that you can do easily without going into default. First, you just need to call your lender and ask for your options. Typically, the first thing they will offer is a hardship deferment or forbearance. This is when you don’t have to make payments, but interest on the loans will still accrue. Another thing that you can try, especially if you don’t get a job quickly, is to change your repayment plan to something that you can afford. You didn’t state if you had Federal or private student loans, but with most Federal student loans, you can change to an income-based repayment plan, and that could significantly lower your payments while you get back on your feet.
Do you think that everyone can earn a side income? I can’t figure out any way to make extra money. – Abby H.
Yes, I think that everyone has the potential to do a side hustle that earns money. There are so many different things that you can do – yes, you can start a blog, but you could also sell stuff, sell your knowledge, teach/train others, create a product, work a second job, freelance, and more. The possibilities are infinite.
If you’re having trouble coming up with an idea, ask yourself what you enjoy? What do you know more about than your friends? What do your friends and family always ask you about? Could you put a unique spin on something you’re passionate about? Then, see how you can transform that into a side hustle.
How do you balance working and running this website? – Jane W.
Thanks for the awesome question Jane – you’re right, I do work full time and balance running this site with that. The key for me is time management and passion. First, I do really enjoy my job, and the schedule is rotating, so I’m free during the day sometimes (like today). Second, I’m really passionate about helping people get out of student loan debt and start investing in their future. I want to help as many people as I can get out of bad situations and get their financial futures in order. So that drives me.
Beyond passion, it takes a very understanding wife, and a solid schedule. I also have the help of a great assistant that helps me with scheduling and planning articles, and I also have various support writers that contribute content as well – it’s not all me, but a team effort.
What was the best investment you’ve ever made? – Sam S.
I have two investments that I’m really proud of, and both were solid value plays. First, and my true best investment, was in Monsanto in about 2004. I investing in the company when it was trading at just $24 per share. In a period of about 2 years, it went up to over $100 per share, then split, then proceeded to rise again to about $80 per share. Needless to say, the return was roughly $70 per share and really solidified my nest egg.
My second best investment was Goldman Sachs during the great recession. I remember distinctly watching the financial sector collapse on my laptop screen while sitting in class. I knew that a lot of companies were in trouble, but I couldn’t imagine a world where Goldman Sachs, one of the biggest investment banks, could go under. So, when it hit $70 per share, I invested quite a bit. In a little over a year it was back over $130 per share. Another solid gain.
What is margin? – Emmanuel B.
Margin is money borrowed to invest. As an investor, you can trade “on margin”, which means that your broker will lend you money to conduct a transaction. The two typical scenarios where this happens is that you can buy new stocks on margin – meaning you borrow money to buy. Also, you can sell stocks you don’t own (short selling) on margin, which means the broker lends you shares of stock to sell, expecting to be paid back the shares in the future.
If you are approved to trade on margin, you typically have to maintain a 50% or less margin ratio. This means, if you have $100,000 worth of stock in your account, you could borrow an additional $50,000. Where people run into trouble is if the market crashes. Say you borrowed that $50,000 to invest, and the stocks fell to $40,000. You would owe the difference. If you don’t pay it back, your broker could sell your other stock automatically to get paid. That’s called a margin call.
What’s the best way to establish a new online presence? – SavageBrand
If I was going to start all over again, I’d put a much higher emphasis on building relationships with others. I blogged “alone” for about two years before I discovered the Yakezie Network, and it was at that point in time that my blog and brand really started to grow.
Second, I’d setup a very clear launch strategy for launching my site out there and getting attention. When I first started, I just posted and hoped that people would read. But that doesn’t help to grow your site. You need to figure out a bit of marketing and then develop a plan that will get you exposure to a large audience – some of whom may join your community. This can be done with social media, traditional media, phone calls, emails, and more.
How many hours per day do you think you put into the blog? How many hours do you work? – Jay from Thinking Wealthy
I actually haven’t kept to much track of my time lately, but I think I probably should – it would probably make a great post. I estimate that I average about 2 hours per day on the blog. However, over the course of 7 days, it could be as little 30 minutes some days, and 3-4 hours others. As for work, I work about 45 hours per week – 5 days a week for about 9 hours.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.