Question: I'm a few years out of college. What is the most important activity to concentrate on that will allow me to achieve more financial independence? What are some available tools to use to gauge progress in that area? — John (Raleigh, NC)
Gary Kaltbaum: John, if I was to put it in one sentence, something that will last a lifetime, it is to always live below your means. Unfortunately, many have put themselves into debt by spending more than they have saved through credit cards. Credit card offers are plentiful regardless of one's financial situation. My 10-year-old son actually received a credit card with a $5,000 limit. Know your limitations and recognize that debt is a nasty four-letter word.
Question: My husband and I have stock in Verizon Communications, left to us by his father. We have no idea what to do with it. Our quarterly dividends are used to buy additional stock with the hopes that our children will benefit from them. Are we doing the right thing? Do you have any suggestions or ideas which would help us? Should we consider going in another direction? My husband seems uninterested. — Iva
Gary Kaltbaum: Iva, the first thing I would tell you is to get your husband interested. Financial decisions should be co-authored by both spouses. As far as Verizon, you are dealing with a slow-growth comapny with tremendous competetion. The stock is back to where it was 10 years ago. This is not the type of stock that will pay off in the future. You need to find something more dynamic with stronger growth rates. As always, do your homework.
Question: Would you buy Ford stock today? — David
Gary Kaltbaum: David, I would not buy Ford stock today, but that does not mean it can't go higher. Ford is now finally taking major steps to control expenses which could potentially boost shareholder value. I would rather own companies that have products that have strong margins and have strong demand — and that do not have to fire employees and shut plants.
Question: If the housing market bubble bursts — and I'm not looking to relocate — how can I cash in without moving? Thanks — Christine (Queens, NY)
Gary Kaltbaum: Christine, if the "bubble" does burst, the only way to take advantage would be to sell and rent until prices come down. That said, I am not sure Carnac the Magnificent would be able to time such an occurrence. Decide what is best for you. Keep in mind, housing prices are dependant on city and location in that city. Prices differ all over the country.
Question: What do you think of the coal industry and what are the companies that you would invest in? I think that with oil prices as high as they are and going higher, coal will re-emerge. What do you think? — Paul (Hagerstown, MD)
Gary Kaltbaum: Paul, coal has not been a secret. The stocks of coal companies have already had a major run. My favorite name is Arch Coal (ACI) but the stock has already more than doubled in the past year. I am not sure I would be jumping on top of the pile here but ACI would be my favorite name.