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Friday, April 28, 2017

My First Investment

My first investing advice came from message boards on the dial-up internet.

After I got my first job, it was a while before I felt like I had some extra money to invest.

Until then, I kept my money in a savings account in a bank, and let it sit there.

LEARNING ABOUT THE STOCK MARKET
When I was in high school I had a teacher that taught us about the stock market. I really enjoyed his class. He had me bring my copy of the Boston Globe into school each day. This was back when they printed stock tables in the newspaper. And yes, I walked to school every day, up a hill, both ways! ;-)

Each student picked a stock and we tracked it’s performance over time. I looked forward to tracking my stock’s performance each day.

GETTING ADVICE
When it came time to invest real money, I turned to online forums to help demystify the investing process. If I remember correctly, I dialed on to online services like Prodigy, and AOL, and joined finance discussions.


Image: Prodigy Online Service Login Page

One popular suggestion for investing was to invest in things that you knew about, that were to growing.

BUYING STOCKS ONLINE
I opened up an online brokerage account, and invested some money. It was a good way to learn about the stock market, and how to buy and sell stocks.

I ended up buying and selling a few stocks based on my online research and direct experience with the companies.

One stock that I ended up buying, after learning how, was Apple. That was a good stock to buy. ;-)

I bought Apple because I worked at a computer store, and was trained by Apple on the first Macintosh computer in 1984. I then became the local Macintosh expert, handling sales and doing demonstrations of the computer. I got to know it very well and decided that it would be a good investment.


Image: Apple Macintosh

There’s a cool website called InvestedInstead that shows you what your investment would be worth today, if you invested your money in a companies’ stock instead of their product.

As of 4/22/2017, if you had invested $2,495 in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock on 1/24/1984, that investment would have grown 347 times to $866,800. [See Macintosh Results as of today]

This experience gave me the step-by-step knowledge of HOW TO BUY A STOCK.

Investing in individual stocks like this is more risky than spreading out the risk in a mutual fund made up of many stocks.

FUTURESMART APP

Image: FutureSmart App

An app that you can use to learn about investing and personal finance is the MassMutual #FutureSmart App.

One lesson from the #FutureSmart App confirms what I learned: “Investing your money in a mix of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds can help reduce your risk."

Get the FutureSmart App for free.

WHAT I LEARNED
Online brokerage accounts make it easy to buy and sell stocks.

You can never know when a stock will got up or down. You can’t worry about it either. I take the long term approach of buy and hold.

I’m a long way off from that day that I bought my first stock. I am still holding on to some of those early stocks, and buying some other individual stocks, where I have direct experience with the companies, like Disney and Facebook.

I now also work with a financial planner to help me spread out my risk with investments in some professional managed funds, where the only decision I have to make is how much money to put into the fund.

Good luck with your own personal investing journey.

Disclosure: This has been a sponsored post for MassMutual.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mercedes-Benz connects to Amazon Echo: Alexa, ask Mercedes me to start the car.


Image: Alexa Mercedes Me Skill Page

Mercedes me for Amazon Alexa

This is cool, Mercedes-Benz just added an Amazon Echo skill to connect to your car, via mbrace.

Steps to connect your Mercedes (2016 and newer) to Amazon Alexa

1. Enable the Mercedes me for Amazon Alexa skill.
2. Connect the Amazon Alexa skill to Mercedes mbrace.


Image: Mercedes me iPhone App screen

Alexa Mercedes Me Skill Description
With Mercedes me for Amazon Alexa, you can access your Mercedes-Benz from the comfort of your couch. In order to effectively use the Mercedes me skill, you will need an active Mercedes me account and an active mbrace subscription.*

The Mercedes me skill allows you to:

Remotely lock the doors
Remotely start your engine**
Send an address or point of interest to your in-vehicle navigation
Manage multiple vehicles

After linking your Mercedes me account to the Mercedes me skill, you can ask questions or give commands, such as:

"Alexa, tell Mercedes me to lock the car."
"Alexa, ask Mercedes me to start the car." **
"Alexa, ask Mercedes me to send an address to the car."
"Alexa, ask Mercedes me to find Starcoffee near me."
"Alexa, tell Mercedes me to update my primary car."

* Select mbrace services are free for five years with any new Mercedes-Benz.
** Available on select 2016 and newer model lines. Check with dealer for details. Features subject to network coverage.

Please note:
• The Mercedes me skill on Alexa currently only supports users in the United States;
• The Mercedes me skill on Alexa will send remote service commands to your vehicle, but will not currently confirm the completion of those commands. However, in the case of remote start, you will receive a remote start status text message to the phone number that is linked to your mbrace account. If you update your phone number linked to mbrace, you will also be required to update your primary car in Mercedes me in order to continue receiving text messages;
• You can manage multiple cars within Mercedes me. However, you can only operate one car at a time via Alexa i.e. the primary car that you set via the Mercedes me skill. In order to change/update your primary car, simply say "Alexa, ask Mercedes me to update my primary car.";
• For Mercedes me customer support, call +1 800-367-6372