Investment Recommendations For Friends

by Mr. Cheap

Everyone always loves to say “do your own research before purchase”, “make sure to do your own due diligence” or “this is just for informational purposes, not to recommendation to buy or sell” and garbage like that. People are clearly reading investing opinion pieces because they can’t reach their own conclusions, and are prepared to defer to someone they feel is more knowledgeable. The disclaimer is just a cop-out to avoid blame if things hit the fan.

With that in mind, I’ve been happy to write about pretty much anything on this blog, and am equally open with thoughts and ideas about investing to my real life friends and family.

After reading about Lending Club, my best friend and I went 50/50 on a $500 investment. We discussed all the available loans, would send back and forth loan options to fund, and after we’d loaned out the $500, all the loans were doing very well. We’d originally planned to re-invest the proceed, but instead we borrowed more from Lending Club to re-invest (leveraging my friend’s great credit rating since I didn’t have any American credit at the time). Another $2500 in and we were collecting loan proceeds to pay off our debt (and Mr. Cheap was feeling like a tycoon).

Then our first “post Christmas” crash hit, a bunch of our loans went into delinquency, and eventually bankruptcy. Our money has broke even (with the high interest loans JUST covering those who have been defaulting), and our hope is to break even or at least have a bit of our originally $500 left when we pay off the loan we took out.

More recently, in the middle of the sub-prime shakedown, Washington Mutual was yielding over 10%. I talked to my friend about how I love dividend stocks, how stable banks are, and how much they value investors’ long term confidence in their ability to pay dividends. Trusting my judgement, my friend bought in to WaMu at over $30. The stock prompt started nose diving. Partly because I wanted to share her pain, and partly because I honestly thought it was unwarranted pessimism, I bought it myself at $21, buying on margin (which wasn’t terribly smart since I’m not working right now and will have a very low income when I’m back at school). Neither of us invested more than we could lose, but it really sucked when they started saying they’re going to cut their dividend by 2/3rds (I can forgive a low stock price, but if you cut your dividend you’re dead to Mr. Cheap).

Recently when I was talking to my friend I expressed my amazement that she’d still listen to me babble about money since the only thing I seem to be able to do is lose it for her. “Experience is a great teacher but she’s a costly one” rings in my mind, and more and more I see the wisdom of not providing specific financial advice to people you care about. Talking about the thoughts and philosophies are fine, but making specific recommendations just sucks if they don’t work out (and there’s always a risk they won’t).

Of course, do your own due diligence and acquire your own experiences before following any of my advice ;-). A wussy, garbage cop-out, but perhaps a wise one.

Be Sociable, Share!