Trading Starbucks for Information

| November 10, 2010

The current economy is not a friend to the struggling graduate student, but you can give a gift to yourself at the end of the year: all you have to do is give up your lattes.

$100 is the equivalent of 20 frothy Starbucks drinks, but it can also be exchanged for something much more valuable: information. Five years have passed since I last actively traded stocks. As we near the end of 2010, I will give the same advice that I offered to my students several years ago in a local college in Virginia on Christmas: exchange a daily commodity for information, in particular human information.

Reflect on an enterprise you prefer: a holding company, an online vendor, or a technology firm.  Spend 30 minutes on the weekend investigating the profiles of publicly traded companies that fit your criteria: its quarterly earnings, price to earning ratios, daily trading volume, etc. Check out the Wall Street Journal in print, delivered daily to the library’s 1st floor Services Desk, or read it online via Columbia. After you’ve done your homework, set a dual goal for yourself: a realistic monetary goal, 7% profit within 3 months sounds good; and a loftier goal: what information do I want to gain?  Open an account at a brokerage and make a trade, sit back and enjoy the ride.

The experienced traders do not have to limit themselves. Trade an option or structured derivatives; venture into uncharted securities.

Investment is the exchange of assets for potentials.  This holiday season, give yourself a gift and see that potential grow.