How to Read The Wall Street Journal for Free

If you visit The Wall Street Journal and try to read the articles, you’ll find that you will need to have a subscription to read anything behind the first paragraph or two. Subscriptions are $1.99 a week if you want online access, $2.69 per week if you get both print and online. Surprisingly, the subscriber wall isn’t present when you visit the WSJ via a link from some of their partners even though the URLs are the same.

If you want to read a Wall Street Journal article for free, copy and paste the title of the article into a Google search. The first result will usually be the WSJ article, click through and read the article in its entirety for free.

For example, if you are interested in this headline from today, “SEC Faces Challenges With Goldman Case,” you simply search for that title in Google, and see that the first result is to the WSJ article. Click through and you will find that no subscriber credentials are necessary for the full article.

Foolishly visit the article directly, even after you’ve seen it in its entirety, and you’ll see you only get a subscriber content preview.


Watch Out for New Credit Card Fees

With the Credit Card Act of 2009 looming, its rules will go into effect in February, credit card companies are starting to institute more fees ahead of the rules changes. A new Wall Street Journal article cites several of these new fees including $1 processing fees for printed statements, reduction in rewards programs, and fees for inactive accounts. We first talked about some issuers charging fees if you didn’t meet a certain spending threshold last August.

Much like with banks, leave them if you don’t like it. I thought the comment by Christopher Moss, who holds a card that will start charging $1 for statements, that he was “prepared to cut up the credit card even though he likes the loyalty rewards that come with it” was a little silly. Just get electronic statements and you can keep your rewards and not get charged the fee.

In the end, banks and credit card issuers will need to make money to keep their shareholders happy. If they can’t get it through overdraft fees or some of their other existing fees, they’ll get it somewhere else. Now I can’t wait for the rash of people complaining about how they opted out of overdraft protection and start seeing their checks bounce (banks were making a ton of money on overdrafts for a reason…)

 Personal Finance 

What’s In Your Wallet?

The Wallet at the Wall Street Journal has been doing a series videotaping a look into well-known, and not-so-well-known, people’s wallets. They’re all pretty brief videos, the longest at only 2 minutes (most are around 30 seconds), and they give you a personal glimpse into someone’s life that you otherwise wouldn’t have. I’ve embedded two below, after the jump, and linked to the rest they’ve done. They’re fun to watch.

(Click to continue reading…)


Resources to Learn About Stock Market Investing

If you know nothing about the stock market, consider yourself lucky.

If you think the stock market is a scary place that you don’t understand, you’re actually in good shape.

I learned about the stock market in a time of prosperity, in pieces, and probably in the worst possible way and it’s burned me on numerous occasions. When everything is going up and there’s an irrational exuberance, you are afforded the opportunity to have good results come out of bad decisions and that can lead to the development of bad habits. So, if you know nothing about the stock market and are scared of it, that’s actually the best time to start learning about it.

So, if you’re scared and I have bad habits, why should you read anything I have to say about investing? I don’t actually talk much about investing outside of discussing ideas and theories (and recommending index funds from Vanguard) but today I’ll outline a few good resources I’ve found to help you learn more about investing in the stock market.

Morningstar Investing Classroom

Morningstar is great. The number one best place to start, if you know absolutely nothing, is with Morningstar’s Investing Classroom. They have four areas of beginner study – Stocks, Funds, Portfolio and Bonds. Each classroom has five levels of study with the exception of Bonds, it only has two, and each level has anywhere from five to eleven courses. I’ve taken several of the courses and they begin with the basics and move onto progressively more advanced topics.

As a bonus, you earn points for answering the quizzes following each course and can redeem those points for various rewards (you have to be a free registered member to earn these credits).

Motley Fool’s Investing Basics

If you’ve completed all of Morningstar’s Investing Classroom courses, Motley Fool’s Investing Basics is a great place to reinforce those ideas but with a witty and humorous twist. Depending on how quickly you went through the Morningstar site, you probably glossed over a few topics or forgotten others, so review can’t hurt. Plus they’re entertaining to read.

Decisions Decisions Decisions…

At this point, armed with the basics, you have to make a decision. Do you want to invest the your stock allocation in index/mutual funds or do you want to try to go your own way and invest in individual stocks? If the answer is index and mutual funds, you probably are armed with enough information go forth and conquer. Open an account with a Vanguard or a Fidelity and have it (those two always seem to dominate Top Fund lists). If you want to go after individual stocks… there is more learning ahead. (some would say there is more to learn but from here but between Morningstar and Fool, you have enough information to Google search from here)

Securities and Exchange Commission

The SEC has a great guide to financial statements, which you’re going to have to decipher and interpret if you hope to be able to pick some winners in the stock market. I would also get myself familiar with EDGAR, which is the SEC’s database of company filings (EDGAR Quick Guide, Comprehensive EDGAR Guide). EDGAR is far more versatile (and comprehensive) than navigating company websites for their filings. They also have a pretty extensive Publications section that has all sorts of valuable information.

Google Finance

If you want a very quick snapshot of a particular company, I think Google Finance has the most amount of information on a single page and provides the easiest interface to reach it. Simply type in the ticker or name of the company and you can get a wealth of information on one page. You can access their related companies, their latest financials, recent and future events, key stats & ratios, a brief summary as well as links on their company website, list of officers and directors, as well as links to other resource reports such as SEC filings, MSN Money’s listed major holders, etc. All that information is one page, that’s why I like it over other similar services like Yahoo Finance (Yahoo Finance’s advantage is that you can add a lot of technical indicators to their charting services).

Wall Street Journal Markets Data Center

So, armed with that information, you probably have enough to go out and do some serious damage to your portfolio (take that any way you’d like :)). Are you ready to be inundated with market data? If so, and my inundated I mean like drinking from a fire hose, then check out the Wall Street Journal Markets Data Center. Pages and pages and pages of financial information at your finger tips. (if it’s intimidating, but that’s okay… and that’s just the home page, you can drill down even more!) It’s absolutely stunning… now go forth and conquer!


Guide to Understanding Money and Investing Review

Wall Street Journal's Guide to Understanding Money & InvestingFree Money Finance did a 24 hour blogathon where he gave away a ton of books and a ton of money. One of those books was the Wall Street Journal’s Guide to Understanding Money & Investing and I was the lucky recipient so I thought I’d give this colorful 160 page book a review. The book bills itself, right there on the cover, as “An easy to understand, easy to use primer that helps take the mystery out of money, indexes, treasury bulls, stocks, commodities, options, bonds, tracking performance, risk/return, mutual funds, futures, and inflation” and I think it backs up those claims in spades through the use of colorful pictures, informative tables and graphs, and easy to understand explanations of sometimes complicated concepts. This particular edition was written in 1999 and is a bit dated considering in the stocks section it teaches you how to read the stock information usually printed in the newspaper (not many people go there for stock information nowadays) but in general it’s still on the money.

The tall but relatively thin book is separated into color coded sections, each one governing a different topic, and each of the sections does give you a nice 30,000 foot view of that financial idea or instrument. For example, the first section is about money itself and begins by telling stories about the origins of bartering and fiat money. As the section continues, it delves into the banking structure of the United States, a few economic concepts such as money supply, inflation, forms of money (checks, credit cards), consumer confidence, currency in other nations, and then finishes it off by explaining the foreign exchange markets. Throughout the section, it illustrates and expands on its points through the use of colorful diagrams, which help to keep the content interesting instead of dry and boring.

I think the book speaks at a high enough level and uses enough images to supplement the text that anyone can really understand it and it might be something you want to get your future burgeoning teenage businessman or woman (if they’re interested in money!).

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